GSOC ‘not fit for purpose’, say crime victims

The new Policing Authority must have the power to investigate complaints from victims of crime as the Garda Ombudsman is “not fit for purpose”, an alliance of victims’ groups has said.

The country’s largest Garda association said it was “vital” that the authority had the power to sack the Garda Commissioner.

The recommendations are contained in separate submissions to the Department of Justice regarding the establishment of the body.

Neither provision is contained in the Garda Síochána (Policing Authority) Bill 2015.

The Victims’ Rights Alliance (VRA) said the majority of complaints to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission were from the perpetrators of crime and “very few from victims of crime”.

The alliance said some victims believed that GSOC was not independent and saw a direct link between it and the gardaí. It said this was “fuelled by the manner by which victims’ complaints have been handled in the past and the lack of engagement with victims”.

The VRA said both GSOC and the Garda Inspectorate were “not fit for purpose” from a victim’s perspective.

“They would not be in a position to deal with complaints of victims as a result of any breaches under the Victims’ Rights Directive,” a submission said.

The alliance said the new authority should have the jurisdiction to deal with any breaches of the directive.

The VRA submission was sent on behalf of Advocates for Victims of Homicide; the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre; the Irish Road Victims’ Association; the Irish Tourist Assistance Service; One in Four; PARC Road Safety Group; and Support After Homicide.

The Garda Representative Association (GRA) said it was “vital” that the body had the power to sack the commissioner, as “it must be able to effect real change in Garda leadership”. The GRA called for the authority to have an oversight role over GSOC, including the power to investigate complaints by gardaí about the ombudsman.

It said the Garda Inspectorate should also come under the remit of the authority. It said the chair of the authority should be elected by its board.

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