Examinations of Garda practice, policy and procedure

Examinations of practice, policy and procedure of the Garda Síochána are undertaken in line with section 106 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005.

They differ from investigations in that they examine practices, policies and procedures of the Garda Síochána, rather than behaviour of any individuals. Often, such examinations are prompted by issues that come to notice during the course of investigations following complaints or referrals. Their purpose is to prevent complaints from arising.

Legislative amendments in 2015 provided that the Ombudsman Commission may undertake these examinations by its own volition (previously the permission of the Minister for Justice and Equality was required), and that the Minister must lay the reports before the House of the Oireachtas (publish them). The Minister for Justice and Equality or the Policing Authority may also request the Ombudsman Commission to undertake such examinations.

GSOC has delivered reports on two such examinations to date and these can be read in the ‘Publications’ section.

Two examples of examinations undertaken related to practices, policies and procedures:

  • Detention of people arrested under the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994, where no power of detention exists. Intoxicated people are sometimes detained by gardaí because of a duty of care, but there is no power of detention in these circumstances under the above act – and a garda could be found in breach of regulations or discipline for doing it. The issue is being examined with a view to making recommendations which could possibly address this issue.
  • Seizure of a vehicle can mean that a driver and other occupants are dispossessed of it on the public road. There have been over 40 complaints to GSOC alleging that occupants of vehicles have been left in vulnerable situations by the Garda Síochána. Garda guidance regarding the safety and welfare of people in such situations appears unclear. This examination is being undertaken with a view to making recommendations which could possibly prevent this type of complaint arising.