The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) is an independent statutory body, established under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and set up in 2007. It replaced the Garda Síochána Complaints Board. Its mission is to provide efficient, fair and independent oversight of policing in Ireland.
GSOC’s primary responsibility is to deal with complaints made by members of the public concerning the conduct of members of the Garda Síochána. There are several different ways these may be dealt with – see Complaint Investigation Types for detail on this.
GSOC has several other responsibilities unrelated to complaints. These are:
- To conduct independent investigations, following referral by the Garda Síochána, in circumstances where it appears that the conduct of a garda may have resulted in the death of, or serious harm to, a person (provided for by s.102(1) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005). 52 such referrals were received in 2015, of which 15 related to fatalities. See Investigations following referral for detail on these.
- To investigate matters in relation to the conduct of gardaí, when it is in the public interest, even if a complaint has not been received (provided for by s.102(4), 102(4)A, 102(5) and 102(7) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended). 12 such investigations were opened in 2015. See Public interest investigations for more information.
- To investigate (with the consent of the Minister for Justice and Equality) where there is a concern that the Garda Commissioner may have committed an offence or behaved in a manner that would constitute serious misconduct (provided for by s.102B of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended).
- To examine any “practice, policy or procedure” of the Garda Síochána. Two such examinations have been conducted by GSOC to date (provided for by s.106 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005). The first, completed and submitted to the Department of Justice and Equality in 2009, examined the Fixed Charge Penalty System. The second, completed, submitted and published in 2015, was in relation to dealing with persons who are committed to custody on remand by a court. Read these examination reports.
Our Annual Reports each year detail the amount of activity undertaken by the organisation in the previous year in relation to these responsibilities.
Structure and staffing
The Garda Síochána Act 2005 (section 65) provides for three Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commissioners, appointed by the President on the nomination of Government and the passage of resolutions by the Oireachtas. One of the Commissioners is appointed as Chairperson. A Commissioner’s term of office is 3-6 years and he/she may be reappointed for a second term (section 66). The Act allows for the Commission to act normally with one or more vacancies among its members. The Commission is the equivalent of the Board of GSOC and holds monthly Commission meetings. The Commission operates under the Code of Practice for the Governance of State Agencies.
The organisation also has a Director of Administration and a Director of Investigations.
At the end of 2017, the organisation had 84 staff. 23 are employed in the Administration Directorate and 61 in the Operations Directorate. Additional to this are the three Commissioners (two in office and one vacant position), a Superintendent seconded from An Garda Síochána, two ICT contractors and one person contracted to provide media & communications services.
Recruitment is done via the Public Appointments Service (PAS). Staff grades and salary scales are governed by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform (and can be seen in DPER Circular 17, 2015). See careers for information on working for GSOC.