A total of 65 complaints were made against member of An Garda Síochána in the Sligo Leitrim Division last year.
The figure taken from the 2010 report of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) showed that the number of complaints in this district against officers was relatively low. There were 64 complaints reported in the Roscommon/ Longford area, 98 in Cavan Monaghan and 120 in Donegal during the same period.
Nationally GSOC received 2,258 complaints from the public and 103 referrals from the Garda Commissioner, which involved 15 fatalities.
Speaking at the launch, GSOC Chairman Dermot Gallagher said, “The Commission is very pleased that the organisation, after just three and a half years of operational activity, is firmly embedded in the consciousness of the public and the Gardaí. There is a general and growing recognition, borne out by an independent national survey, that GSOC is widely recognized as independent, effective, and efficient.”
Mr Gallagher was referring to the results of an independent survey, conducted by Millward Brown Lansdowne, that showed that public confidence in GSOC had risen, as it has done each year since the agency opened.
The Commission does see one particular emerging trend. Firstly, with about 50% of complainants being people with third level education, in secure accommodation, and either employed, in education or retired, it is clear that a broad cross-section of the Irish public is willing, where they feel the need, to engage with GSOC to help resolve their issues with the Gardaí. It seems also that the public are expecting, and rightly so, not just policing of crime, but a consistent level of efficiency across the range of services provided by the Gardaí.
Among the allegations received, the four most prominent types were Abuse of Authority (34%), Neglect of Duty (29%), Discourtesy (13%) and Non-fatal Offence (11%). These were reported to occur generally in search and investigation and arrest scenarios, usually in a public place.
Asked about increases in allegations of abuse of authority and neglect of duty, Commissioner Carmel Foley commented, “This is reflective of the higher standard of behaviour that the public expect of the Gardaí. People are conscious that the Gardaí are allowed a wide range of powers under the law to do their job. However, people are also very aware that with those powers comes responsibility. That responsibility includes working within acceptable boundaries and discharging duties efficiently.”
27 files were referred to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) by GSOC during 2010, relating to 31 members of the Garda Síochána and seven persons who were not Gardaí. The DPP directed prosecution in 11 cases relating to 14 members of the Garda Síochána and 3 who were not Gardaí. Eleven of these cases were before the courts as of 31st December 2010.
Commissioner Conor Brady said, “While it may be interesting for commentators to look at numbers of gardaí coming before the courts, the real measure of the Commission’s performance is in increased public and garda awareness that independent oversight is now a central element of modern policing in Ireland. Confidence in an independent and impartial investigative process is reassuring for the public and the Garda Síochána alike.”
In related news, the last 126 gardaí graduate from Templemore this Thursday and there will be no new recruits for at least two years and no recruitment is planned.
The Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors says the decision is a serious mistake. The Garda Representative Association says the Government is gambling with the safety of citizens and the security of the State to save money.