Wednesday, 17 February 2021

Questions (596)

Catherine Murphy


596. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice the reason for the legislative arrangement of having Garda superintendents investigate complaints from members of the public given GSOC is now obliged to carry out same under the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 2007. [8132/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that Sections 83 to 101 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, set out rules and processes defining how GSOC must deal with complaints.

All complaints received by GSOC are assessed against criteria listed in the Garda Síochána Act 2005 to determine if they are admissible. This process determines whether a complaint is about behaviour which would, if proven, constitute a criminal offence or a breach of Garda discipline by a member of An Garda Síochána.

Criminal investigations by GSOC are conducted in accordance with Section 98 of the Act. All allegations of criminal offences by Gardaí (for example assault) are investigated by GSOC’s own investigators.

There are three ways allegations of breaches of discipline can be handled:

1. Unsupervised disciplinary investigations (under section 94 (1) of the Act) are conducted by Garda superintendents in line with the Garda Discipline Regulations. The Protocols between GSOC and the Garda Síochána say that unsupervised investigations must be completed and a final report issued to GSOC within 16 weeks. An example of the kind of case that is investigated in this way is an allegation that there was abuse of authority in the manner in which an arrest was conducted. The local intervention process allows for the resolution of some complaints at a local level; complaints resolved in this way do not become the subject of formal investigation.

2. Supervised disciplinary investigations (under section 94(5) of the Act) are also conducted by Garda superintendents but are supervised by GSOC investigators who meet with the Garda superintendents to agree an investigation plan. The GSOC investigator can direct and partake in the investigative actions, and must receive interim reports. The Protocols say that supervised disciplinary investigations must be completed and an investigation report provided within 20 weeks. Supervised investigations are appropriate in more serious allegations of neglect of duty, for example, lack of, or insufficient, investigation of a serious crime reported to Gardaí.

3. Non-criminal investigation by GSOC (under section 95 of the Act) – Certain cases which do not appear to involve criminal offences, but which may involve disciplinary and/or systemic matters, are undertaken by the Garda Ombudsman’s own investigators. Disciplinary investigations which follow on from criminal investigations would be among this kind of non-criminal investigation undertaken by GSOC investigators.