Gardaí admit: We let down analysts

Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin.

Senior gardaí have admitted they failed civilian analysts who raised problems about the inaccurate recording of crime statistics and were also belittled by management.

Gardaí were also unable to confirm when a review of suspicious deaths and homicide figures would be complete and conceded a deadline at the end of this month would not be met.

The Justice Committee quizzed Garda representatives yesterday on the homicide statistics debacle which recently resulted in a cessation in the publication of crime data.

The committee last month heard from analysts Lois West and Laura Galligan that they had been belittled and had their credibility attacked by senior Garda management when they raised concerns over whether investigations were sufficiently carried out into homicides they found to be wrongly classified.

Both said they had been pushed into signing off on a report they disagreed with on crime statistics.

The misclassification and inaccurate recording of crimes by gardaí had left some women at risk of domestic violence, two civilian force members had said.

The force’s chief administrative officer Joseph Nugent yesterday admitted to the committee he and acting Garda commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin found the two women’s treatment by the force a “concern” and “worrying”.

“Lessons had been learnt” since then, Mr Nugent said, but he could not explain why the concerns of Ms West and Ms Galligan had not been taken up by senior management before.

The committee heard the two analysts are now part of a review group assessing 41 suspicious death and homicide cases and examining the Pulse system and recording of crimes.

Assistant commissioner Orla McPartlin told the committee no completion date could be given for the review which had been scheduled for completion at the end of this month. Ms McPartlin confirmed the two women were integrated fully into the review group now.

Mr Nugent, meanwhile, admitted the force had failed the two analysts. However, the committee was told that there still exists a “complex categorisation” regime for statistic compiling in the force.

Under questioning from Independent TD Clare Daly, assistant commissioner Michael Finn confirmed there were still 16 death categories used by the force.

The recording, of deceased people, on the Pulse computer system had yet to be resolved, the committee was told, and gardaí were “working towards a solution”.

Just 12 of the 41 case reviews have been completed, the committee heard, and gardaí were happy with how they were being classified. However, chief superintendent Brian Sutton told the committee there were still problems: “There are data quality issues, there are small issues that have come to light, that we are addressing in relation to a fast-track method such as people not being recorded as dead even though they were dead.”

The absence of Mr Ó Cualáin from the meeting was strongly criticised.


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