Thursday, 26 February 2004

Questions (74)

Ruairí Quinn

Question:

71 Mr. Quinn asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the amount paid out either in respect of court awards or out of court settlements for claims taken against members of the Garda in respect of assault, unlawful arrest, or other breach of a citizens right in respect of 2001, 2002, 2003 and 2004 to date; the number of cases in which awards were made by the courts; the number of cases which were settled out of court; the number of such cases pending; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6241/04]

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 in actions taken against members of the Garda in respect of assault, unlawful arrest or other breaches of citizens' rights is set out in the following table.

As of 31 December 2003 there were approximately 750 civil actions taken against members of the Garda Síochána on hand. In the short timeframe for answering this parliamentary question, it is not possible to give a breakdown of these actions in the form of the number of allegations of assault, unlawful arrest and other breaches of citizens' rights. However, a database introduced in 2002 for the purposes of recording civil actions taken against members of the Garda Síochána indicates that in 2003 — the first complete year for which figures are available — of the 142 actions initiated or received in that year by my Department, there were 34 cases of alleged assault recorded and 38 cases of alleged unlawful arrest recorded. The remaining 70 cases recorded included allegations of defamation and harassment. In the year to date, 13 actions have been initiated/received. They include four cases of alleged assault and six cases of alleged unlawful arrest.

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 Garda members 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 Garda members come into question. One of the principal aims of the Garda Síochána Bill 2004 is 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 (Provisional) €1,276,127.55

Awards

11,000 (1)

10,000 (2)

4,870 (2)

Settlements

75,000 (4)

303,011 (5)

112,814.84 (4)*

Costs

145,561.70

71,794.28

542,075.73*

Total

231,561.70

384,805.28

659,760.57

2004 (Provisional) (as of 24/2/04) €30,375.33

Awards

0

0

0

Settlements

10,000 (1)

4,007 (1)

0

Costs

0

16,368.33

0

Total

10,000

20,375.33

0

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.

*These provisional figures are updated from those circulated with reply to Parliamentary Question No. 15, dated 29 January, as a result of being clarified in the process of drawing up the 2003 Appropriation Account.