Terms and abbreviations

Glossary of abbreviations and terms


All complaints to GSOC have to be assessed against the criteria listed in section 87 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 to decide whether they can legally be “admitted” to be dealt with or not.


This is a sanction for breach of the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 2007, which may be applied by the Garda Commissioner following investigation of a complaint about a garda.


Each complaint is broken down into one or more allegations, which are individual behaviours being complained about. For example if a person said that a garda pushed them and used bad language, this is one complaint with two separate allegations. Each will be assessed for admissibility and investigated if admissible.

Breach of discipline

Gardaí are supposed to behave in line with the Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 2007.

GSOC investigations seek to establish if a garda’s behaviour was in line with these regulations or not. If it is established that it was not, the Garda Commissioner may find the garda “in breach of discipline”.

Discipline Regulations

The Garda Síochána (Discipline) Regulations 2007, as amended.

Disciplinary action

Sanction which may be applied by the Garda Commissioner following an investigation. There are two levels of action provided for by the Discipline Regulations, relating to less serious and serious breaches of discipline respectively.


Designated Officer – a GSOC officer designated in writing by the Ombudsman Commission to deal with complaints, investigations and other procedures.


(Office of the) Director of Public Prosecutions. Following a GSOC investigation, if we believe there may be evidence of a criminal offence, we send a file to the DPP and a decision is made there on whether to prosecute or not.

Garda Inspectorate

GSOC works side-by-side with the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and the Policing Authority to provide police oversight. We each have different areas of responsibility. The Inspectorate’s objective is to ensure that the resources available to the Garda Síochána are used to achieve the highest levels of effectiveness and efficiency in its operation and administration. It does this by carrying out inspections or enquiries on the operation and/or administration of the Garda Síochána.

Garda Ombudsman

Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (the organisation).


Garda Senior Investigations Officer, who investigates complaints alleging breaches of the Discipline Regulations on GSOC’s behalf. This can be a superintendent or an inspector.


Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (the organisation).

Informal resolution

This is a process offered in the case of less serious allegations, for example rudeness. It involves a GSOC case officer speaking to both parties with the aim of each getting a better understanding of the other’s point of view and coming to the agreement that the matter is resolved.


If a complaint cannot be resolved informally, it must be investigated. Any complaint containing an allegation of a criminal offence is investigated by a GSOC investigator, in line with section 98 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005. A complaint containing an allegation of a disciplinary nature is usually investigated by a senior Garda officer, under the Discipline Regulations, in line with section 94 of the Act. If the Ombudsman Commission deems it appropriate, these investigations may be supervised by a GSOC investigator.

Local Intervention

The Local Intervention (LI) process is aimed at resolving certain service-level types of complaints against members of the Garda Síochána at a local level without the need for the matter to enter a formal complaints process. The process entails nominated Garda Inspectors contacting the person making the complaint, establishing what the issues are, and attempting to resolve matters to the complainant’s satisfaction

Ombudsman Commission

The two Commissioners of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission. They are Ms Justice Mary Ellen Ring, Emily Logan and Hugh Hume.

Out of time

A complaint made more than twelve months after the incident being complained of. This will not be looked into, unless GSOC decides that you have given a good reason for not being able to complain within a year.

Policing Authority

GSOC works side-by-side with the Garda Síochána Inspectorate and the Policing Authority to provide police oversight. We each have different areas of responsibility. The Policing Authority’s responsibilities include overseeing how the Garda Síochána performs its policing functions, approving Garda Síochána Strategy Statements and Policing Plans and setting priorities and levels of performance.

Public interest investigation

The Garda Ombudsman may investigate matters in relation to the conduct of gardaí, when it is in the public interest, even if a complaint has not been received. The Ombudsman Commission may decide to open such an investigation itself, or may be requested to do so by the Policing Authority or by the Minister for Justice and Equality.


The Garda Síochána must “refer” to GSOC any incident where death or serious harm has occurred, and where there is a possibility that it may have resulted from the conduct of garda. This is so that the facts of what happened can be established independently and objectively, by a GSOC investigation.

The Act

The principal act governing the functioning of GSOC, which is the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended.