GSOC report addresses Garda response to water protests

GSOC report addresses Garda response to water protests

Gardaí acted proportionately in the majority of water protests last year, the Garda Ombudsman has found.

GSOC's Annual Report reveals that it only sent one incident of Garda behaviour at water protests to the DPP - who then decided not to prosecute.

The report says GSOC received 40 complaints about Garda behaviour at water protests or meter installations - but over half were dropped because the complaint was either dropped, or was not made by a direct witness.

Most of the complaints concerned allegations of assault or excessive force. Others concerned allegations of a disciplinary nature, such as neglect of duty or abuse of authority.

GSOC said that it examined footage taken from Garda body cameras, and from videos shared on social media.

"No clear evidence of garda misconduct was shown in the majority of the videos and in some cases they showed that the actions of the gardaí concerned were proportionate," the report states.

"GSOC sent one investigation file, related to a complaint of assault on a female, to the Director of Public Prosecutions. No prosecution was directed.

"A disciplinary investigation concerning the conduct of three gardaí in relation to this case remained open at end 2015.

"Over a third of complainants did not co-operate with the GSOC investigations or withdrew their complaints, making investigation difficult.

"There was insufficient evidence in any of the other investigations to warrant criminal or disciplinary action."

The complaints were among 2,000 in total received last year, with the most common complaints around abuse of authority and neglect of duty.

“We believe that some complaints, in particular those that relate to quality of service from gardaí, are best addressed through a managerial rather than a disciplinary response,” said GSOC Chairperson Justice Mary Ellen Ring

“We have put suggested reforms before the Minister and Department of Justice and Equality.”

“We would also like to see more engagement by gardaí with the informal resolution process, when minor complaints are made.

“These types of complaints, as they are currently handled, are resource intensive for both GSOC and the Garda Síochána - and often they do not provide a satisfactory experience for complainants either. Moving towards a resolution model must be a focus for GSOC.”

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