If a matter is referred to GSOC, does An Garda Síochána have no further involvement in its investigation?
Chapter 4 and Appendices A and B of the Protocols between the two organisations are about investigations that coincide. Where a referral is made to GSOC by An Garda Síochána, GSOC has a responsibility to investigate the matter, and this may include investigation of civilian behaviour as well as garda behaviour.
However, in practice, a division of responsibilities is generally agreed between the senior officers of GSOC and An Garda Síochána at the scene and, based on this, there are generally parallel investigations by the two organisations. GSOC’s main concern will be to establish whether there is evidence that conduct by a garda member, be it criminal or non-criminal, may have contributed to death or serious harm.
An Garda Síochána will generally retain responsibility for the investigation of any possible criminal offences by other individuals involved.The above sections of the Protocols say that, if one organisation has what is considered to be a more urgent investigation, based on organisational or evidential requirements, that organisation will take the lead; and where both organisations are investigating matters of equal importance, the lead will generally rest with GSOC.
This will be kept under review by the Senior Investigating Officers of each organisation. Where there is an issue in determining the level of seriousness of the investigations, the matter will be resolved at a more senior level. If it is agreed that a GSOC officer should take responsibility for the scene, it may be necessary for garda members to operate under their direction at the scene. Instruction will normally be via the most senior garda officer at the scene, but may be direct if appropriate.