Gardaí at all ranks have expressed concern to the Garda Inspectorate regarding the widespread use of drug-related stop and search powers to search people for other suspected offences.
The gardaí also said the searches can be a “stain” on a person’s character as they are recorded on the Pulse system, even when no drugs are found.
The Inspectorate’s Crime Investigation report reveals 145,776 searches were conducted over 13 months — more than 11,200 on average a month. The bulk are thought to be under “stop and search” legislation.
The Inspectorate is to conduct an inspection to establish on what basis people are searched and whether or not the system is abused.
“The Inspectorate has received negative feedback from within the Garda Síochána at all ranks about the use of stop and search, and that in many cases the power under the Misuse of Drugs Act is used in the absence of other powers,” said the report.
Speaking to the Irish Examiner, deputy chief inspector and report author Mark Toland said when a search is conducted under this legislation, and where no drugs or stolen property are found, it is still recorded on Pulse as a drugs search.
He said “added emphasis” is put on that record if the search was carried out by a drugs unit.
Mr Toland said gardaí they had spoken to were concerned that the record placed a “stain or inference on a person’s character” in cases where no drugs were found or where they were searched for other reasons.
“Clearly, a person not found with stolen property or drugs should not be stigmatised or otherwise disadvantaged in the future,” the report said.
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