Thousands of motorists are still escaping penalty points because their official notice is returned in the post marked “undelivered”.
That’s despite assurances by Garda management a year ago that an enforcement team would be in place to pursue returned notices.
A review by Judge Matthew Deery says: “There is a substantial number of fixed charged notices returned ‘Undelivered An Post’. This is of some concern and has already been highlighted by the Garda Professional Standards Unit.”
Judge Deery was appointed by Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald to be the Independent Oversight Authority for cancellation policy in the wake of the penalty points scandals.
For his first annual report, he reviewed a random sample of cancellations from one week every three or four weeks.
Overall, he found “substantial compliance” with the procedures introduced in 2014 to tackle what previously had been widescale, unexplained and allegedly corrupt cancellations.
But undelivered notices remain a problem, as they were when the Garda Professional Standards Unit (GPSU) did its own review a year ago and found one in 12 cancellations were due to notices being undelivered.
At the time, the GPSU said a dedicated enforcement unit should be established at the Fixed Charge Processing Office in Thurles to probe such cancellations further.
Independent TD Mick Wallace, whose Dáil revelations sparked the penalty points controversies, criticised the failure to address the issue.
“Garda Maurice McCabe [the penalty points whistleblower] has been calling for an evader unit to be set up in Thurles. We have a large proportion of notices undelivered by An Post and at present they don’t have a mechanism for a follow-up.
“Maurice McCabe argued you need to put about four gardaí with access to PULSE in place to follow up on that and not have them get away with it. Why that hasn’t been done, I don’t know.”
Ms Fitzgerald said she had been advised that “additional enforcement arrangements” were in place in Thurles to deal with the issue. The minister also said it was intended to develop a master record of all driving licences that would better link various databases and improve address details for the delivery of fixed charge notices.
“We have made significant and extensive reforms to processing and oversight of request for cancellation of penalty points,” she said. “I am now satisfied that we have a very robust process in place.”
Mr Wallace, however, said he had doubts over the new policy that required serving members of the force to put requests for cancellation of their own penalty points before the DPP.
“It seems to be a box ticking exercise and if they’re caught speeding in their own car, even though they might be on the way for their breakfast, it doesn’t seem to be a problem. Are things better than they were? I’d say so. But could things be a lot better? I’d say they could.”
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