Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Questions (156, 157, 164)

Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

156. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the barriers to An Garda Síochána sharing case related information in a multi-agency risk assessment conference setting with departmental agencies and front-line domestic violence organisations. [12451/19]

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Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

157. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if a memorandum of understanding between An Garda Síochána, departmental agencies and front-line domestic violence organisations would enable it to share case related information in a multi-agency risk assessment conference setting. [12452/19]

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Mary Lou McDonald

Question:

164. Deputy Mary Lou McDonald asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the domestic violence risk assessment tool under development by An Garda Síochána will be used by partner agencies and front-line domestic violence agencies. [12579/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 156, 157 and 164 together.

I have sought a report from the Garda Commissioner in respect of the issues raised and will correspond directly with the Deputy when I receive a response.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
I refer to Parliamentary Questions Nos. 156, 157 and 164 of 13 March. I have now received a response from the Garda Commissioner to the issues raised by the Deputy.
The Commissioner has advised me that the Garda Síochána recognises the importance and effectiveness of working in collaboration with external agencies, in particular in cases of sexual and domestic abuse where victims require a range of support services from multiple stakeholders, and that multi-agency working is about providing a seamless response to such individuals. There are, however, restrictions for the Garda Síochána in sharing case related information in a multi-agency risk assessment setting. In the case of crimes against adults where there is no imminent risk identified it is not permissible under data protection legislation to share personal information without the consent of that person. Insofar as the protection of and welfare concerns surrounding children is concerned the sharing of information with the Child and Family Agency is provided for under the Children First Act 2015 and Children First Guidance 2017. It is not possible to share this information with other agencies except in cases where an imminent risk of harm is deemed to exist. Thus, the sharing of information with front-line domestic violence organisations is very limited and can only occur when consent is provided.
The development of a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between An Garda Síochána, Departmental Agencies and front-line domestic violence organisations would need to be based on lawful process and conform to the Data Protection Acts. There are specific data sharing difficulties that arise in sharing information with front-line domestic violence organisations and the existence of an MOU would not alleviate the barriers and/or circumvent the limitations on data sharing imposed by the Data Protection Acts.
However, it is possible to share data with Departmental Agencies as the Data Protection Act, 2018 permits the development of service-level agreements inter-departmentally.
The domestic-violence risk-assessment tool currently under development by the Garda Síochána has been specifically designed for use by members of the Garda Síochána. It is not envisaged that the risk-assessment tool would be utilised by any other agency, having been designed specifically for policing use and will be accessed through PULSE (the Garda computer system), which nullifies the prospect of use by any external agencies.
Where appropriate, partner agencies such as the Health Service Executive (HSE) and Tusla will be notified of identified risks in specific cases. However, it will not be possible in the absence of consent to inform front-line domestic violence agencies of such risks, as to do so would be a breach of Data Protection legislation.
I hope this information from An Garda Síochána is of assistance.