Surprise Garda station inspections proposed to justice minister on policing reforms

Surprise inspections of Garda stations and the ability to investigate retired force members are among the recommendations to the justice minister on policing reforms.

The proposals are part of an Oireachtas Justice Committee report which includes recommendations about gardaí as well as a general oversight of the criminal justice system.

TDs and senators have also proposed a new criminal justice inspectorate should be set up.

The Oireachtas report, submitted to Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald, will be launched in Leinster House today.

The committee heard from a number of bodies during its deliberations on the justice system, including the Garda ombudsman, the Garda inspectorate, and the Garda policing authority.

The report suggests the Garda inspectorate should be given statutory powers to make “unannounced visits” to Garda stations. The inspectorate has said the powers would not be used often but that similar bodies in other jurisdictions have the option. The inspectorate says the surprise visits are important for Ireland, to keep in line with implementing a UN convention against torture and punishment.

The report also recommends that former members of the force should be subject to investigations by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) where needed. It says: “At present, there is a lack of clarity as to whether former members of An Garda Síochána could or should be the subject of GSOC investigations. They are technically no longer subject to the disciplinary regulations that attach to serving members. The police ombudsman in the North can investigate retired officers. Consideration should be given to extending a similar explicit statutory power to GSOC.”


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