A third of all detectives are untrained, with some waiting up to 10 years before getting any instruction, according to a damning report by the Garda Inspectorate.
The bulk of all Garda recruits since 2005 — numbering 5,000 in total — have not received training in how to conduct interviews.
In a 500-page report, the inspectorate said that a lack of crime management structures meant that inexperienced gardaí were sometimes investigating serious crimes, such as rape, child sexual abuse, and robbery.
It said there was “minimal assessment” of students before becoming gardaí and there was “no practical training” to ensure gardaí were “prepared” for policing.
The report, conducted over two years, found there were “systemic failures” in the recording of crime.
It said failure to record a crime was “unacceptable”, that there were “serious deficiencies” in recording crimes and classifying them properly, with 30% of sampled cases “incorrectly” classified as lesser crimes.
The inspectorate said there was “significant under-recording of burglary and attempted burglary” and that the “veracity of crime recording must be addressed immediately”.
The report said the police service was “in critical need” of modernising crime investigation and said there were “systemic operational deficiencies”.
Other failures include:
- “Serious issues” in the investigation of domestic violence, with only 287 arrests in 11,000 domestic violence incidents and “negative attitudes” among some members;
- Lack of supervision of gardaí, with sergeants, inspectors, and superintendents overwhelmed by administrative work;
- Exaggerated detection rates, with 26% of sampled crimes actually detected, compared to Garda estimates of 43%;
- Under-use of fingerprinting, with only 45% of suspects in sampled cases who should have been fingerprinted, actually fingerprinted, including in murder and rape cases.
The report said 700 detectives are “untrained” out of a total of 2,200 detectives (1,900 full-time detectives and 300 detective aides).
“Detectives, without formal training, were appointed in post for two or three years and in some cases 10 years before receiving training,” the report said. This included detectives investigating complex crimes, such as fraud.
It criticised “inconsistent” approaches to keeping victims informed of cases.
The report said many of its 200 recommendations are “dependent” on modern technology, costing €40m.
Chief inspector Bob Olson described the Garda’s investigation system as “patchy” rather than “dysfunctional”.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald and Garda commissioner Noirín O’Sullivan announced a range of measures in light of the report.
- Serious crimes including child abuse, rape and threats to life are investigated by regular gardaí with no specialist training.
- A large number of assaults and domestic disputes are reclassified and downgraded to the non-crime category.
- Delays in gathering and examining evidence and in arresting suspects are commonplace.
- Gardaí can’t log incident reports from the field because of poor radio reception linking them to Pulse.
- Poor management means cases are sometimes assigned to gardaí who are retired or who are on extended leave.
- Some gardaí deliberately omit suspect details from Pulse entries to stop other members arresting them and claiming credit for solving the case.
- Some gardaí see domestic violence cases as “problematic, time-consuming and a waste of resources”.
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