Gardaí have been told to find “a permanent solution” to the scandal of falsified breath tests for alcohol and wrongful convictions so public trust can be restored in the force.
The Policing Authority made the call in a scathing report into the scandal.
Conducted by Crowe Horwath, the independent report found the falsification of Garda breath-test figures was about “feeding the beast” and submitting data, and not about detecting or preventing drink-drivers and educating the road-using public.
It found “very significant issues remain” with regard to both the fixed charge notice (FCN) summons and breathalyser data recording problems. “particularly with regard to governance and accountability, supervision, training, information dissemination, and related operational and administrative matters”.
In a lengthy list of recommendations, the Policing Authority said “significant work” must now be done by the gardaí to “provide a permanent solution to all of these problems” in order to provide assurance to the general public, the Oireachtas, as well as the Policing Authority.
“This will require strong leadership, a heightened sense of accountability across the organisation at all ranks, and a critical rethinking of the way in which the Garda Síochána delivers training and information updates to frontline gardaí in these areas of road policing,” states the report.
It says the focus of the force should now be on correcting the problems identified rather than conducting “continuing and lengthy examination into the scale of past discrepancies”.
The system for issuing and processing FCNs requires “a complete overhaul” and should be a single system with no manual summons requirements for unpaid FCNs.
The need for “precision” should also be emphasised to all gardaí involved in recording and reporting breathalyser checkpoint data as part of training and ongoing professional development and through strengthened supervisory arrangements.
The report also says that a “clearer strategic view” needs to be taken across the force in respect of the purpose of random breath testing and the need for “accurate, reliable, and honest statistics” to be published in respect of checkpoints.
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