New national standards for crime counting are to be established after a report by of the Garda Inspectorate on Crime Investigation highlighted “serious systemic weaknesses” in An Garda Síochána.
Among the key findings of the report were that crimes are not always recorded, with cases of domestic violence not always correctly recorded.
Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald confirmed that the CSO will chair an expert panel to examine the Inspectorate's recommendations on crime statistics.
“The expert panel will review the crime counting and detection rules, as recommended by the Inspectorate, with a view to introducing new national standards,” she said.
“As well as including representatives of my Department and An Garda Síochána, the panel will have outside experts with relevant expertise.”
The 500-page report says there was a lack of oversight in the decision-making process, with inexperienced gardaí investigating serious crimes.
It has expressed concerns over the timeliness of investigation and has made 200 recommendations for changes to be implemented.
The Minister thanked the Garda Inspectorate for its work on the report, saying it will inform future policy.
“The Inspectorate report raises serious concerns and represents a highly challenging analysis of Garda processes and systems, highlights serious systemic weaknesses; and will inform my ongoing reform of policing in Ireland,” she said.
Commenting on the Garda Inspectorate Report on Crime Investigation, Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said:
"The Garda Inspectorate’s latest report is a highly detailed and extensive document with a large number of recommendations.
Like all Garda Inspectorate reports to date it contains very valuable and useful proposals based in part on input from An Garda Síochána that will help us improve the service we provide to communities.
An Garda Síochána agrees with the broad principles contained in the report and will work closely with the Inspectorate and all other stakeholders to improve our processes, systems and practices as quickly as possible.
An Garda Síochána welcomes the report’s proposal for a substantial investment in new technology. This will enable our staff to have better and quicker access to information that will help them provide an improved service to the public. It will also help managers have better oversight and governance of what their staff are doing.
The Inspectorate also recognises that we have highly dedicated and committed staff who do great work every day to support and protect communities.
It is also welcome that the report highlights good practice in a range of areas such as community policing; crime prevention; anti-burglary operations; response times to emergency calls; analysis of crime data; support for victims of crime, and efficient use of resources.
As the Inspectorate acknowledges such initiatives combined with the excellent work by our staff have helped deliver a reduction in crime levels over the last five years.
An Garda Síochána handles almost 1 million incidents a year, the vast majority of which are successfully concluded.
However, the report has identified a number of weaknesses in our systems and processes, and a lack of consistency and standardisation.
As the Report says, such issues are not unique to An Garda Síochána and are common in many other police services.
In addition, it is recognised that An Garda Síochána cannot solve all these problems alone and in many instances partnerships with other criminal justice agencies are required. In that regard, we look forward to working in collaboration with the various working groups recommended by the report.
In relation to the classification of crime, having the right data is critical to ensure that we can deliver an effective police service that responds to the needs of the communities we serve.
To ensure data integrity we are establishing a Data Quality Team that will provide independent oversight of the classification of crime and crime detections.
We also look forward to working with the CSO on the expert group it is to chair that will review the crime counting rules.
Another part of the report of major concern was the section on how some victims of crime feel they were treated.
An Garda Síochána’s primary focus is to work with communities to protect people from becoming victims of crime, but if they do then they need to be supported at what can be a very distressing time.
According to the Report, most officers provide an excellent service to victims, but there is inconsistency in the delivery of support and some victims have felt let down by An Garda Síochána.
I want to reassure all victims of crime that we will support them, take their complaints seriously, and that all complaints will be investigated.
It is vital that all victims of crime receive a consistently excellent support service from An Garda Síochána. It is the least they can expect at a time of need.
That is why following a successful pilot we are establishing Victim Services Offices across the country. These will provide a better service to victims of crime by putting their needs and concerns at the centre of the investigation process. They will provide advice, information and support to victims, and will be staffed by dedicated, specially trained personnel.
We will also be regularly tracking the views of victims of crime through our new quarterly Public Attitude Survey, which started this month, and our well-established National Victims of Crime Forum. The feedback from these will be used to identify areas for improvement.
An Garda Síochána has a strong record on bringing criminals to justice, assisting the victims of crime, and protecting communities.
An Garda Síochána has been working on a range of measures to strengthen and improve our approach to crime management, which address some of the issues raised in the report. These include:
- A national standard is being implemented to provide consistency and standardisation of crime management practices. This will deliver more stringent governance and accountability at local, national and regional levels
- An offender management process that targets high impact repeat offenders is being introduced in conjunction with the Probation and Prison Services. Its aim is to reduce the recidivism rate.
- A risk compliance and continuous improvement team will be introduced in each region to support a revised focus on professional standards and to tackle any weaknesses identified in the Inspectorate’s report
- Following a successful pilot, An Garda Síochána will roll-out nationally a risk assessment of all domestic violence incidents. This involved speaking to all injured parties to see how they felt their incident was handled by An Garda Síochána. This information will then be used to improve how we respond to domestic violence incidents.
In any organisation of the scale and scope of An Garda Síochána there will be weaknesses in systems and oversight, and in doing its job the Inspectorate has identified areas for improvement.
An Garda Síochána is committed to introducing comprehensive reform of the organisation’s structures, systems and processes to ensure that we provide the people of this country with a world class police service. A high-level internal Group has been established to drive forward and implement the necessary reforms so that we have the correct governance, oversight and controls in place.
This comprehensive reform programme will mean doing things differently than we have done before.
It means improving our systems. It means putting in place greater controls and oversight. It means a strong focus on instilling consistency of best practice. It means ensuring all victims of crime receive an excellent service. It means working with communities to, in the first instance, prevent crime. It means making sure all crimes reported to us are treated seriously and with sensitivity. It means developing our culture so all staff are focused on providing a professional police service that is better than best in class.
This report provides us with important building blocks to help us achieve this. Investment in the technology we need will be critical. Maintaining our focus on community engagement will be vital. Supporting our people in the work they do to protect communities is essential.
We now have an incredible opportunity to develop a police service that meets the needs of modern Ireland. A police service that is technically advanced and highly professional, but remains at the heart of communities.
I would like to thank the Garda Inspectorate for their work in producing this detailed and important report, and for their on-going assistance to An Garda Síochána.”