Thursday, 29 January 2004

Questions (18)

Willie Penrose

Question:

15 Mr. Penrose asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount paid out in respect of court awards or out of court settlements for claims taken against members of the gardaí in respect of assault, unlawful arrest, or other breach of a citizen's rights in respect of 2001, 2002 and 2003; the number of cases in which awards were made by the courts; the number of cases which were settled out of court; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [2490/04]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to court awards and out of court settlements taken against gardaí in respect of assault, unlawful arrest or other breaches of citizens' rights is set out in the table being circulated with this answer.

Civil actions may be taken by the general public against members of the Garda Síochána for compensation for alleged wrongs and personal injuries inflicted on them by gardaí in the performance of their duties. The highest percentage of these types of civil actions against the Garda Síochána is in relation to assault and unlawful arrest. The great majority of these cases have been settled for less than €25,500. Settlement of cases takes place on the advice of the Chief State Solicitor, the Attorney General and State Counsel.

The Garda Commissioner has informed me that incidents which result in successful claims against the State in respect of the actions of gardaí are examined with a view to identifying and implementing operational strategies to eliminate or reduce similar claims in the future. The Garda Commissioner has also informed me that the Garda Síochána discipline regulations 1989 are invoked in appropriate cases where the actions of individual gardaí come into question. It is relevant also to indicate here that I will shortly be publishing a Garda Síochána Bill, the draft scheme of which was approved by Government and published in July 2003, one of the principal aims of which will be the establishment of a new mechanism for dealing with complaints against members of the Garda Síochána which will secure public confidence and which will address the acknowledged shortcomings in the existing law and procedures on complaints.

Year(Total Amount)

Assault

Unlawful Arrest

Other

2001 €1,619,746.83

Awards

1,904.61 (1)

20,950.68(2)

22,220.42 (1)

Settlements

123,164.59 (5)

33,965.49 (3)

162,782.25 (9)

Costs

244,665.35

123,199.41

886,894.03

Total

369,734.55

178,115.58

1,071,896.70

2002 €1,240,388.40

Awards

1,270 (1)

3,809.21 (1)

56,500 (2)

Settlements

166,924.48 (6)

106,835.58 (10)

185,078.82 (11)

Costs

230,769.67

148,714.19

340,486.45

Total

398,964.15

259,358.98

582,065.27

2003 €1,232,101.65

Awards

11,000 (1)

10,000 (2)

4,870 (2)

Settlements

75,000 (4)

303,011 (4)

37,814.84 (3)

Costs

145,561.70

71,794.28

573,049.83

Total

231,561.70

384,805.28

615,734.67

The number of cases in which awards were made by the courts and the number of cases which were settled out of court are shown in brackets in each case.