Probe into homicide statistics claims

The Policing Authority is to examine the dramatic comments on Garda homicide statistics by two Garda civilian experts at Wednesday’s Oireachtas justice committee and consider if “action is needed”.

Lois West and Laura Galligan.

Authority chair Josephine Feehily is to appear before the committee on March 21, where she will address the matter and explain the work of the authority over the last year in examining the issue.

The two civilians told the committee of their serious concerns regarding the quality of homicide statistics — and questions over some investigations — and how they felt their concerns were dismissed by gardaí and claimed they were put under “significant pressure” to sign off on statistics they could not stand over.

The claims by Lois West, deputy head of the Garda Analysis Service, and Laura Galligan, crime and policing analyst, shocked members of the committee and raised concerns over the culture of the Garda hierarchy given the emphasis on modernisation in recent years.

“In the coming days, the authority will review the transcripts from the Oireachtas committee meeting to consider whether any action is needed,” said the authority in a statement.

It said the chair was due to appear at the committee on March 21 and that this issue was one of the agenda items.

It added: “It should also be noted that the issues arising in relation to homicides have been and continue to be a live issue on the Authority’s agenda since April 2017 and will remain a focus until the Authority is fully satisfied.”

Ms Feehily may be questioned at the committee in relation to the authority’s actions regarding Ms West.

She told the committee she was told by a member of Garda management on August 1, 2017, that they had been informed “by a member of the Policing Authority” about approaches she had made to it.

“This was raised with me in the context of management trying to ascertain what my thinking was when I did this,” Ms West said.

She said that, to date, neither she nor Ms Galligan had met anyone from the authority in relation to the Homicide Review.

The authority said: “We are not commenting on specific contact that individuals may make with the authority. However, in general terms we can confirm that robust safeguards are in place to appropriately protect confidentiality.”

A statement issued by An Garda Síochána said it did not comment on remarks made by individual Garda personnel. It said it did not comment on individual cases, but said that all complaints of potential criminal behaviour were investigated.

It said: “An Garda Síochána supports any personnel in An Garda Síochána in bringing forward issues of concern. Any complaints from Garda personnel in terms of how they have been treated are taken seriously and examined.”

It said all members understood that all deaths are investigated “fully and professionally”.

It said Garda management has provided detailed testimony to both the committee and the authority on the issue — and that further reviews were ongoing.

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