Pressure on gardaí over private firm contracts

An Garda Síochána is coming under pressure to publish full details of any contracts with private firms operating mobile speed detection cameras after it emerged that GoSafe, which operates 50 speed detection vehicles, was paid €1.2 million per month to carry out speed checks under the terms of a contract.

The figures, disclosed to RTÉ under Freedom of Information, shows details of the contract which ran for over six years until May 2017 when it was replaced by a new agreement.

GoSafe was paid a flat rate of almost €45,000 per month, in addition to a rate of €151.79 paid per hour of speed monitoring, and €144.40 for each surveying hour. There were also other costs, including covering staff who had to attend court cases.

GoSafe provides 7,373 hours of speed monitoring each month as well as a minimum of 100 hours of surveying.

Social Democrats co-leader Róisín Shortall said gardaí should now release information on other contracts, stating: “It is clearly in the public interest for us to know details of contracts with private companies operating services on behalf of the State’s law enforcement agencies.”

Dublin West TD and Justice Committee member, Jack Chambers said the contract details were “deeply troubling” and added: “From the very outset, this information should have been publically available and not hidden or shrouded in secrecy.”

His Fianna Fáil party colleague, Sligo-Leitrim TD member of the Public Accounts Committee, Marc MacSharry, said the figures were “alarming”.

He said: “I have written to the chairman of the committee to request this be put on the agenda for the autumn.”

In 2014, the Department of Justice sought a report from gardaí after Judge Patrick Durcan, sitting at Ennis District Court, dismissed 98 speeding cases on the basis that GoSafe staff were unable to demonstrate the requisite legal authority for them to give evidence on behalf of gardaí in relation to the cases in court.

The department said it had subsequently received the report from the gardaí and that it made clear that such operators appear as witnesses for the prosecution.

“The report also set out how the process operates and highlighted individual errors by GoSafe staff (such as respect of scheduling) which occurred in a small number of cases before Judge Durcan,” said a department spokesman.

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