Further work on homicide data needed

The Policing Authority has told An Garda Síochána to carry out “further work” on its homicide data after the force claimed that issues had been fixed.

Further work on homicide data needed

The authority also criticised the delay by Garda management in addressing the concerns, which first emerged 10 months ago.

Describing the response by Garda chiefs as “frustrating”, the authority said it was particularly disappointed in the difficulty in getting information from the organisation.

Garda homicide data issues were made public at an authority meeting last April, when then commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said it was conducting a review based on classification issues regarding 41 homicides recorded between 2013 and 2015.

Another review was instigated in June when the commissioner told the authority that a further 89 homicides between 2003 and 2017 had not been reported to the CSO because they had been recorded incorrectly on the Garda Pulse system.

In a statement, the authority said that it had “persistently engaged” with An Garda Síochána on the classification of homicide data, since the matter first came to its attention at the end of last March.

It said it was concerned at the scale of the misclassification and efforts to address it as well as any implications for investigations.

It said it had stressed to Garda chiefs that these issues were “critical” to public confidence in policing.

“The pace at which this issue has been addressed by the Garda Síochána has been frustrating for the authority, in particular, the delay in getting comprehensive information on the matter,” the statement said.

The authority said it has engaged with the organisation over the last 10 months in meetings with the commissioner in public and private and with other representatives.

“The authority has sought and received assurances on a number of occasions from the Garda Síochána, twice in public, that their investigations into the deaths were effectively investigated,” it said.

“At no time has the Garda Síochána demurred from that position.

“The authority is seeking to understand and confirm these Garda assurances, but questions remain from information and reports received by the authority to date.”

It said Garda HQ supplied material on April 26 followed by a review report on 21 September last, in which it said the classification issues relating to the 41 cases had been “resolved in full” and were now correctly classified in Pulse and that all the investigations were appropriate to the classification.

However, the authority said that, having checked with Garda bosses about the process it used, it told Garda HQ that “further work” was required.

The authority has sought:

  • An explanation for discrepancies between the April material and the September report;
  • A process and timeframe for dip sampling to establish the degree to which PULSE is being updated in a timely manner with the outcomes from the higher courts;
  • A process and timeframe for the review of all homicide cases from 2003 and 2017;
  • A process and timeframe for a peer review of the quality of investigations in the 41 cases

It said the next public meeting was on February 22 and it expected “the above actions will be addressed at that time”.

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