I propose to take Questions Nos. 53 and 54 together.
I have sought information from the Garda Síochána in relation to the matters raised and will revert to the Deputy upon receipt of this information.
In the meantime I can advise the Deputy that following the establishment by An Garda Síochána of a National Garda Protective Services Bureau, led by a Chief Superintendent, and the establishment of a new nationwide network of Garda Victim Service Offices with dedicated staff in each of the 28 Garda Divisions further initiatives are now planned locally to improve the services to victims of domestic violence. The National Garda Services Bureau is tasked with improving services to victims, improving the investigation of domestic violence incidents, and identifying and managing risk. It is intended to establish Divisional Protected Services Units in each Garda Division, mirroring the responsibilities held by the National Protected Services Bureau. This will be rolled out shortly on a phased basis starting with 3 Divisions - Louth, Dublin Metropolitan Region West and Cork City. Part of the initiative is more appropriate accommodation for victims to make reports.
Furthermore, a new Garda domestic violence policy has recently been finalised with input from the voluntary sector and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions. The policy places victims at its centre and will increase the awareness and enhance the capability of members of An Garda Síochána when dealing with this issue. The policy will inform the training of members of An Garda Síochána, the continuous professional development of members and modular training for the Divisional Protected Services Units.
The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
I refer to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 53 and 54 for answer on 4th May 2017, in which you requested information on the then Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality's protocols that are in place for the way gardaí treat victims of domestic violence who enter Garda stations to make reports and her plans to ensure standardisation and harmonisation of the way domestic violence complaints are addressed by An Garda Síochána in order that women are not impeded from making complaints, and cases broughtforward are not undermined.
As you will recall, the information you requested could not be obtained in the time available, and the then Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality undertook to contact you again.
All Garda personnel received training in the investigation of incidents of domestic abuse, in all its forms. Additional and more specific training has been developed by the Director of Training, in conjunction with the Garda National Protective Services Bureau, for personnel selected for duty with the pilot Divisional Protective Services Units which recently commenced in three Garda Divisions - the DMR West (Blanchardstown); Cork city, and Louth. This initiative is being managed by the Detective Chief Superintendent, Garda National Protective Services Bureau with each Divisional Officer and will inform the full roll-out to each Garda Division, by assessing and evaluating the initial Units, by geographicalsize and population profile.
An Garda Síochána has recently issued a revised policy for intervention in domestic abuse incidents, which is a ‘live’ document, and outlines processes and procedures to be undertaken by Garda personnel when investigating such incidents. The Policy will be the subject of review and amendment, arising from new or amending legislation.
This policy outlines that Garda personnel, when dealing with victims of domestic abuse will:
- introduce themselves by name;
- speak to the victim in private;
- if the victim prefers to talk to a Garda of their own gender, every
- -effort is made to accede to this wish, and this Garda is included in the investigation;
- arrange for assistance from local Ethnic Liaison Officers to be utilised, where cultural issues arise.
When dealing with the victim, the Garda attending the scene will keep in mind the emotional and physical pain the victim may be suffering, while ensuring all available evidence is obtained.
If the victim has injuries, medical assistance will be arranged by the Garda attending the scene.
The Garda will explain to the victim the investigation process and the continued liaison which will be maintained throughout the investigation.
Victims are advised of a suitable safety plan, and are provided with the relevant contact details for the emergency services.
The victim is advised of the procedures to be followed in applying for a Safety/Protection/Interim Barring/Barring Order under the Domestic Violence Act, 1996, as amended.
The victim is advised of the legal redress available to them through the Civil Courts and provided with contact details for the Family Law Courts in the area.
Victims are provided with the information, support and protection in accordance with the Garda Victim Service Policy and the EU Victims Directive.
The victim is provided with a copy of the relevant Domestic Abuse information literature and is made aware of the relevant services, both statutory and voluntary, in the area which may be of assistance to them.
The victim’s complaint is investigated without bias or discrimination.
Each Garda Division has a nominated Inspector appointed by the Divisional Officer, who has responsibility for monitoring and ensuring compliance with the Domestic Abuse intervention policy when dealing with incidents of domestic abuse. D/Chief Superintendent, Garda National Protective Services, and his management team, on behalf of the Commissioner, and under the direction of Assistant Commissioner, Special Crime Operations, is responsible for ensuring that all incidents relating to criminality againstvulnerable persons are properly recorded and investigated and that all appropriate supports are provided to the victims of crime. Responsibility for the investigation of individual incidents rests with the District Officer where such incident occurred.
An Garda Síochána has also adopted Children First: National Guidance for the Protection & Welfare of Children (2011), which also provides further guidance on procedures in relation to Domestic Abuse where children are involved.
As part of the ongoing work of the PULSE Data Quality Working Group, a process commenced in the Northern Region in April, 2017, whereby staff at GISC are responsible for the recording and classification of all crime in the Region. It is intended for the phased roll-out of this process to be completed to all Garda Regions before the end of Q3, 2017. This will provide a uniform approach to the recording and classification of crime.
I hope this information is of assistance.