GSOC publishes its 2022 Annual Report – Transformation, Growth, Reform
GSOC’s Annual Report documents the high volume and complexity of allegations dealt with by the policing oversight body in 2022, and provides an expanded and detailed set of case studies, public interest investigation summaries, and detail of systemic recommendations made to An Garda Síochána. The report also looks ahead to GSOC’s planned transition to an expanded and transformed police oversight body under forthcoming legislation, stressing the importance of safeguarding independence and ensuring adequate resourcing.
27 September 2023
Tá leagan Gaeilge an phreasráitis seo ar fáil ANSEO.
The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) published its 2022 Annual Report, Transformation, Growth, Reform, today (27 September 2023). The report documents the high volume and complexity of allegations dealt with by the policing oversight body in 2022.
The Annual Report presents an overview of GSOC’s work in 2022, including statistics on the number of complaints received, the number of investigations undertaken, and outcomes reached. GSOC received a total of 1,826 complaints from the public in 2022, and opened 41 investigations on referral by An Garda Síochána following incidents involving death or serious harm. The year also saw 27 files forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions arising from GSOC investigations into allegations of sexual violence, assault, breaches of the Road Traffic Acts and the provision of false information.
The report sees GSOC provide enhanced detail and information about its work, with the inclusion of 20 case studies providing a snapshot of the range of ways in which complaints and referrals are received, progressed, investigated and resolved. The Report also provides an overview of the outcomes of the 20 public interest investigations closed by GSOC in 2022, as well as a summary of the systemic recommendations on policy and practice issued to An Garda Síochána in that year.
The report also looks ahead to the expected expansion of GSOC’s mandate under the forthcoming Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill, which will see the creation of a new police complaints and oversight body.
Speaking today on the publication of the report, GSOC Chairperson Rory MacCabe, said:
“It is my hope that this Annual Report will afford the reader an accurate view of the important work done by GSOC and a sense of the challenges that an expanded and transformed police oversight and complaints body will face in the years to come.
Policing oversight is hard. It is a detailed and demanding vocation, crucial to accountability in a democratic society. Holding police, possessed of considerable powers, to account deserves the highest respect. To maintain this respect requires express and unequivocal commitment to independence.
In recent months GSOC has clearly outlined concerns that the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill does not adequately provide for the level of institutional independence that the public rightly expects of a new policing Ombudsman body. Such independence was as the heart of the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing, that were accepted and endorsed without amendment by the Government. The Bill will shortly go before the Senate and my colleagues and I intend to engage further with the upper house to underscore the importance of strengthening the institutional independence of GSOC’s successor body.”
NOTES TO EDITOR
The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) is an independent statutory agency set up in 2007 under the Garda Síochána Act 2005.
Its function is to deal with complaints of misconduct by members of An Garda Síochána in an efficient, effective and fair manner.
The Ombudsman Commission consists of three members. Current members are:
Justice Rory MacCabe, Chairperson, appointed January 2022.
Emily Logan, appointed February 2021
Hugh Hume, appointed February 2021
Under Section 80 of the Act, GSOC is required to furnish an annual report to the Minister for Justice. The 2022 Annual Report was furnished to the Minister on 31 March 2022, and has been published today (27 September 2023).
Key facts and figures from the 2022 GSOC Annual Report
2022 in numbers
852 cases on-hand on 1 January 2022
1,826 complaints received, containing 3,207 allegations
49.5% of complaints ruled admissible
41 referrals from the Garda Síochána of matters where it appeared ‘the conduct of a member of the Garda Síochána may have resulted in the death of or serious harm to a person’. 17 of these related to fatalities.
2,301 complaints closed
62 sanctions imposed by the Garda Commissioner following complaints
17 public interest investigations opened (these are investigations undertaken in the absence of a complaint or referral from the Garda Commissioner)
18 protected disclosures received
27 files sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions
Case studies and Systemic Recommendations in the 2022 Annual Report
The 2022 Annual Report contains a range of case studies arising from its investigative work in 2022, as well as itemising the various recommendations made to An Garda Síochána where issues of a systemic nature were uncovered in the course of GSOC’s investigations. Case studies from GSOC’s Local Intervention initiative are also provided.
Case studies include examples of:
- Disciplinary breaches including failure to investigate allegations of abuse; discreditable conduct; failures in securing evidence; abuse of authority;
- Criminal charges including for sexual assault, domestic abuse, assault and theft
- The satisfactory resolution of service-level complaints via GSOC’s local intervention initiative, in cooperation with designated Garda inspectors
Systemic recommendations to the Garda Commissioner on Garda policy and practice included recommendations relating to:
- the preservation of investigative files,
- safeguards around vehicle pursuit,
- safeguarding and risk assessment in custody settings, and
- training of personnel regarding the application of extraterritorial jurisdiction.
GSOC’s Preparations in 2022 for transition to new remit under Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill
The Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill is currently making its way through the Oireachtas. It was passed by Dáil Éireann on 12 July 2023, and will shortly be scrutinised by Seanad Éireann. It is expected that the Bill will be enacted later in the year. The Bill as passed by Dáil Éireann can be read HERE.
The broad-ranging draft legislation seeks to address some of the key recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing, amongst which was the expansion of the powers and remit of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission via its replacement with a new police oversight and complaints body.
GSOC issued observations on the scheme of the bill in December 2021, available on GSOC’s website HERE, and published expanded observations and analysis of the published bill in February 2023, available HERE.
GSOC’s observations broadly welcome the draft legislation’s proposals for the expansion and restructuring of its investigatory powers, but raises significant concerns regarding institutional independence, adequate resourcing and Garda cooperation.
GSOC intends to engage with Seanad Éireann in the coming parliamentary term to continue to raise these concerns.
2022 Annual Report Transformation, Growth, Reform
2022 report submitted in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act, 2005
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