According to the annual report of the Garda Internal Audit Committee for 2014, out of of a total of 46 recommendations relating to the control, management, and recording of drugs exhibits, property and evidence, including cash held at Garda stations, there were 21 outstanding at the end of last year.
The committee, which is headed by a former senior civil servant, said “close attention” is needed in the area of the management of property and evidence in the possession of An Garda Síochána.
The report stated that the Garda Internal Audit Section could provide only “limited assurance” in this regard and that practical solutions to address the issue needed to be implemented “as a matter of urgency”.
Meanwhile, a former head of the Garda Inspectorate has said she was not surprised by the failures uncovered in a damning review of crime investigation by the force last year.
Kathleen O’Toole, who was the first chief inspector of the inspectorate and served from 2006 to 2012, said she had uncovered similar failings during her term.
Now chief of police in Seattle, Ms O’Toole said however, that she was confident that Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan would tackle the issues and make the necessary improvements.
“There is a sense of urgency for change now. That definitely fluctuated during my time there,” she said. She said when she first arrived from Boston in 2006, the Garda Síochána Act — intended to reform the force after the scandals in Donegal uncovered in the Morris Tribunal — had just been passed.
“There was a real appetite for change and then I think with the economic downturn of course politicians became distracted,” she said. “Hopefully now that things are moving in the right direction there will be more focus again on police reform.”
Chief O’Toole was speaking to RTÉ Radio in Seattle where President Michael D Higgins has been visiting as part of an official eight-day trip to the US west coast.
She said police forces around the world could learn from each other but could not simply take ideas from one place and expect them to work somewhere else.
“When I came first I think people expected I would arm the gardaí. It’s great to look internationally for best practices but we really need to culture-proof them for the jurisdiction at hand.There are things I did in Boston that I wouldn’t do in Seattle. There are things we do here in America that wouldn’t fit into the Irish culture.
“During the period of time I was there I travelled to every corner of the country and spoke to people living and working in the communities of Ireland as well as police officers on the ground on the frontlines and the overwhelming consensus was that they did not want routinely armed police.”
She referred to the “horrible tragedy” of Garda Tony Golden’s death and said Garda safety had been raised with her, resulting in the routine use of stab vests and the setting-up of the armed regional support units.