On 31 March 2019, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (“GSOC”) published its 2018 Annual Report.
Some of the key 2018 figures quoted in this report include:
551 of the complaints received in 2018 were deemed to be inadmissible as the allegations contained in them did not fulfil the admissibility criteria laid out in the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
Common reasons for inadmissibility of complaints included:
Report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland
GSOC’s report refers to the publication of the 2018 report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland and indicates that it welcomes this report, which is a major development and its recommendations will have significant implications for GSOC.
In brief, the Commission’s report outlines that there must be independence in the handling of complaints which relate to Garda conduct and recommends that GSOC be superseded by a new independent complaints body, bearing a new name to make it clear that it is independent of An Garda Síochána.
It is proposed that this independent complaints body would investigate incidents rather than individuals, with a focus on whether policing occurred in accordance with accepted standards rather than whether or not an individual Garda breached disciplinary Regulations.
Complaints would be dealt with initially by this new body, which would ascertain whether the complaint was a performance management issue, in which case this would be referred to An Garda Síochána to review, or one which outlined serious issues regarding the standards of policing and therefore required independent investigation.
The new body would investigate all complaints which raised serious issues, without recourse to Garda investigators (most complaints of a non-criminal nature are currently investigated by senior Gardaí on behalf of GSOC), and would be adequately resourced to do so.
Local Intervention Initiative
In addition, GSOC’s report outlines a new pilot local intervention scheme, which was established in 2018 in conjunction with GSOC. This scheme was implemented to address the lack of satisfaction amongst complainants who make complaints of failure in service provision by Gardaí.
Types of issues considered suitable for local intervention include:
The process begins with gaining consent from the complainant to local intervention with a nominated Garda Inspector appointed. The nominated Inspector then contacts the complainant with a view to establishing the outcomes the complainant hopes to achieve.
Following this, the nominated Inspector contacts the Garda complained of in relation to the issues raised. The Inspector will contact the complainant to advise on the action taken to address the matter and if the matter is resolved to the complainant’s satisfaction, the outcome is notified to GSOC.
If the matter is not resolved, the Inspector informs GSOC who will then decide on what further action, if any, is to be taken.
This pilot scheme for resolving service level complaints began in the Dublin Metropolitan (South Central) Region at the beginning of 2018 with 62% of complaints being resolved to the satisfaction of the complainant.
The pilot scheme was further extended to the South Eastern Region – comprising of Carlow/Kilkenny, Tipperary, Waterford and Wexford in the latter part of 2018 with arrangements being made for the introduction of this scheme with the DMR (West) Region in 2019.
For further information click the following links to the GSOC Annual Report of 2018 published on 31 March 2019, the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland Report published on 18 September 2018 as well a link to Fieldfisher’s blog dated 26 October 2018 on the Commission’s report.
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