Claims of ‘cover-up’ on Garda homicide figures

The maltreatment of two civilian analysts working in An Garda Síochána by senior uniformed management has been called a “national scandal” after they raised concern over homicide figures.

Garda senior management were also accused by several TDs of a “cover-up” after it emerged they dismissed and ignored concerns about how deaths had been classified.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan last night said he was “concerned” by what he heard at the committee.

The two analysts claimed they were “attacked” and “belittled” by senior Garda management after they sought to highlight concerns after 43 deaths between 2013 and 2015 were found to have been misclassified.

Evidence given by data specialists Lois West and Laura Galligan to the Oireachtas Justice Committee has been described by TDs as “shocking” and “deeply disturbing”.

At the commitee, Ms West and Ms Galligan told the justice committee they were “belittled and treated poorly”, put under pressure to resile from their findings and their “integrity was undermined and attacked”.

They said they were also put under “significant pressure” to sign off on a report about homicide misclassifications that they knew was “completely inaccurate”and “misleading” last May.

“Neither Ms West nor I were given the respect we deserved. Indeed, at times I felt we were belittled and treated very poorly,” Ms Galligan said.

“We were subjected to severe pressure to withdraw our concerns, to ignore our professional standards and to agree with the views of the sworn members of the review team. Our integrity, both personal and professional was undermined and attacked,” Ms West said.

Ms West was “aghast” when senior Garda officers last year presented a report on the homicide mis-classifications to the independent Policing Authority and tried pass it off as a “joint enterprise” between Garda officers and civilian analysts.

Ms West and Ms Galligan said they felt excluded by the Garda offices from the process of drawing up that report, although it was presented to the authority as a report by the analysts.

They were vindicated last September when it was accepted that their concerns were valid.

“The workplace has not been a pleasant place for either of us for the past 15 months,” Ms West said when asked about the impact of the repeated hostilities on her and Ms Galligan.

It also emerged that misclassification and inaccurate recording of crimes by the gardaí left some women at risk of domestic violence, two civilian officers in the gardaí’s statistics unit have told the justice committee.

Ms West said: “We had very genuine concerns that a person may be living in a vulnerable situation.

“For example, we made the decision to escalate cases where we felt that a new partner may be at risk.”

Mr Flanagan said: ‘I am aware of the issues raised by the two members of the Garda Síochána Analysis Service at the Joint Oireachtas Committee.

“Of course, I am concerned about the statements made by the two Garda analysts to the Justice Committee; particularly the suggestion that the non-recording or incorrect recording of incidents of Domestic Violence may put other women in danger,” he said.

Labour TD Alan Kelly said the evidence by the women was “extremely shocking” and showed that little or nothing has changed in An Garda Siochana.

He said: “The way they have been treated over the past 15 months is nothing short of a national scandal. I believe there was a cover-up at the highest echelons of the force. There was an attempt to attack their work. Their evidence was shocking.”

An Garda Síochána said it does not comment on comments made by individual personnel.

“An Garda Síochána supports any personnel in An Garda Síochána in bringing forward issues of concern. Any complaints from Garda personnel in terms of how they have been treated are taken seriously and examined,” a statement said.

Also, the Policing Authority said it was “concerned at what has emerged” but was not in a position to respond fully to the evidence given yesterday as a process with the force is ongoing.

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