4: A complaint of discourtesy, resolved by unsupervised disciplinary investigation


Background:

A woman made a complaint to the Garda Ombudsman alleging discourtesy during a traffic stop that she and her father were subject to. They received a number of fixed penalties owing to the car they were driving being untaxed, not having a valid NCT certificate and possibly being uninsured. The complainant disputed the fixed charges, on the basis that her car being untaxed, uncertified and uninsured was as a result of difficulties with the garage she bought it from. She also alleged that the garda member would not let her or her father speak to answer questions he asked them, called them liars and shouted at them. She states also that the member refused to provide his details when requested.

Action Taken:

The first matter, regarding the woman’s dispute of charges against her for reasons given, was deemed inadmissible for investigation by the Garda Ombudsman because, even if the reasons given were proven to be correct, it would not have been a breach of discipline for a garda to sanction a person in the absence of tax, insurance and NCT (i.e. he was doing his job). However the other two allegations were admitted and designated as possible breaches of discipline (as defined by the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations, 2007). It was considered whether the case would be suitable for informal resolution but unsupervised investigation by the Garda Síochána was deemed most appropriate*. An investigation was conducted by a Garda Superintendent.

The complainant and her father were interviewed. The garda member was also interviewed and stated that, while it was not intentional, he understood that his behaviour may have come across as discourteous.

Outcome:

The Garda Superintendent concluded that the garda concerned was in breach of discipline and recommended that Advice be sanctioned. He informed the complainant and garda accordingly.

* This type of investigation is allowed for by section 94(1) of the Garda Síochána Act, 2005.