What powers do GSOC officers have?


In criminal investigations, GSOC officers have all the powers, immunities and privileges conferred on, and all the duties imposed on, any member of the Garda Síochána. However, unlike members of the Garda Síochána.

If the complaint concerns a possible criminal matter and is being investigated under section 98 of the Act, GSOC officers have “all the powers, immunities and privileges conferred on, and all the duties imposed on, any member of the Garda Síochána”. However, unlike members of the Garda Síochána, GSOC cannot prosecute on behalf of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP). At the end of a criminal investigation, a file may be sent to the DPP with a recommendation. The DPP takes a decision based on the investigation file whether to prosecute or not.

In disciplinary investigations under section 94(5), which are supervised, GSOC can require the GSIO to keep it informed of the investigation; require interim reports; be present during interviews; and direct the GSIO to investigate further any aspect of the complaint. When GSOC receives the investigator’s final report, if we believe that a breach of discipline may have taken place, we will send a report to the Garda Commissioner with a recommendation (in accordance with the provisions of section 97 of the Act). If there is no evidence of a breach of discipline, the matter may be discontinued and a report need not be sent.

In unsupervised disciplinary investigations under section 94(1), undertaken by a GSIO, GSOC has limited involvement. The Act gives a complainant the right to request GSOC to review the investigation if they are dissatisfied with the outcome. GSOC may write to the Garda Commissioner following a review, if any potential issue is found with the way the disciplinary investigation was conducted, but GSOC does not have the power to change the outcome.

In non-criminal investigations under section 95, GSOC has a number of powers, laid out in section 96 of the Act. Essentially, GSOC can compel a person to attend and provide information that it deems relevant to its investigation, and failure to comply may lead to criminal proceedings. At the end of such an investigation, GSOC must always send a report to the Garda Commissioner, whether there appears to be evidence of a breach of discipline or not.

Upon receiving a report from GSOC, the Garda Commissioner takes a decision regarding any breach of discipline and the application of any sanctions.

  • Can GSOC prosecute or impose penalties or sanctions?

    No, GSOC is an investigative agency only. Following a criminal investigation by GSOC, the DPP takes a decision based on the investigation file whether to prosecute or not. Following disciplinary investigations, the Garda Commissioner takes decisions on any appropriate sanctions or actions. Read More
  • Will GSOC send my complaint back to the Garda Síochána?

    If your complaint is dealt with by informal resolution or if it is a criminal matter, it will be dealt with by a GSOC officer. If it is about a possible breach of Garda discipline, then it will most likely be dealt with by a senior Garda officer on our behalf. Sometimes GSOC will decide to supervise these investigations. If we do not supervise and you are unhappy with the outcome, you are entitled to ask us to review how the investigation was undertaken by the Garda officer. Read More
  • Can I make a complaint about a GSOC staff member?

    Yes. We have a complaints process, whereby complaints about our staff are handled in line with the Civil Service Code of Standards and Behaviour. This Code sets out the standards required by all civil servants, including GSOC staff. Read More
  • What does GSOC do about false or misleading information?

    Section 110 of the Act provides for penalties by way of fine and/or imprisonment for any person who knowingly gives information that is false or misleading to the Garda Ombudsman. Where we believe that there is sufficient evidence that such an offence has been committed, we send a file to the DPP. Read More
  • Why am I told that an inadmissible complaint has been made against me and nothing more?

    If you receive a letter saying a complaint was made against you but was deemed inadmissible, this means that no action will be taken in relation to it by the Garda Ombudsman, that is, it will not be admitted for investigation. Read More
  • If a matter is referred to GSOC, does An Garda Síochána have no further involvement in its i

    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 it 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. Read More