Policing Authority criticises Garda homicide material

Helen Hall, chief executive of the Policing Authority.
Helen Hall, chief executive of the Policing Authority.

The “tone, content, and accuracy” of material provided by gardaí on homicide data has been criticised by the Policing Authority.

The Garda oversight body’s board members took serious issue with information provided in a review of homicide statistics by Assistant Garda Commissioner, Eugene Corcoran, on the eve of a meeting with the Garda Commissioner, Nóirín O’Sullivan, on April 26.

The Policing Authority said it was very disappointed at the late arrival of the information. It had been clearly understood between the parties that the matter was going to be discussed during both public and private meetings the following day.

It had emerged in early April that gardaí had reviewed 41 homicides between 2013 and 2015, over concerns of the accuracy of how some crimes were classified.

Minutes of an April meeting of the Policing Authority show that its members were concerned by the absence of information on the purpose and methodology of the report, as well as the period covered by the review.

They noted that the authority had been given previous assurances by senior gardaí about issues relating to crime-recording.

Following the board meeting in April, and criticism of the information provided by Mr Corcoran, Helen Hall, the chief executive of the Policing Authority, wrote to the Garda Commissioner to outline its requirements for a report on the homicide data.

The issue has also provided further evidence of strained relationships between some senior garda personnel and civilian staff, as the head of the Garda Analysis Service, Gurchand Singh, contacted Ms O’Sullivan and asked her to notify the Policing Authority that he had no role in the compilation of the homicide report and he had not seen its contents.

Members of the Policing Authority also expressed concern about the controversy surrounding the recording of almost one million false breath tests by the gardaí, between 2011 and 2016. The overestimation of breath tests ranged from 5% to 400% across the country’s 28 garda divisions.

An interim report by gardaí into the issue was also criticised for focusing on the activity being taken by gardaí, “rather than addressing findings”.

The Policing Authority also expressed disappointment that gardaí had failed to provide it with any information about inspections carried out by the Garda Professional Standards Unit, which examines and reviews the operational, administrative, and management performance of An Garda Síochána at all levels, despite having indicated that it would expect to receive such information.

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