GSOC’s 2018 Annual Report has been published
The 2018 Annual Report of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has been laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.
The Annual Report is an overview of the work of GSOC for the year and contains statistics on complaints received and closed in the year; case studies; and information about investigations, including investigations in the public interest, opened and closed in 2018.
Keys figures in the report include:
- 1,921 complaints received (1.4 percent decrease on 2017 figure)
- 2,944 allegations contained within those complaints
- 1,897 complaints (including complaints on hand at the beginning of 2018) containing 3,949 allegations closed
- 38 referrals received from the Garda Síochána of matters where it appears ‘the conduct of a member of the Garda Síochána may have resulted in the death of, or serious harm to, a person’—15 of these referrals related to fatalities
- 17 public interest investigations (those investigations undertaken in the absence of a complaint or referral by the Garda Commissioner) were opened
- 17 files referred to the DPP resulting in four directions to prosecute, nine directions for no prosecutions and four decisions pending at the end of 2018. DPP directed no prosecution in relation to a file that was awaiting a decision at the end of 2017
- 24 protected disclosures were made to GSOC by members and /or employees of the Garda Síochána
- 74 sanctions were imposed by the Garda Commissioner on individual gardaí following complaints to and/or investigations by GSOC
- 415 criminal investigations opened.
The most common matters complained of were abuse of authority, neglect of duty, discourtesy, and non-fatal offences (allegations of a criminal offence listed in the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997, for example assault, harassment or false imprisonment).
GSOC also made a number of systemic recommendations to the Garda Síochána which arose from practices or issues encountered by GSOC investigators in the course of their investigations. The practices or issues outlined relate to systemic or management issues rather than behaviour of individuals. The Ombudsman Commission feel highlighting systemic or management issues will avoid recurrence of similar incidents and it’s an important element of oversight.
Notable events for GSOC in 2018 included:
- Patrick Sullivan was appointed a Commissioner of GSOC in July 2018. Mr Sullivan came to GSOC with 30 years’ experience in law enforcement and oversight in the US, including more than 20 years spent in the US Secret Service.
- A significant joint initiative involving the Garda Síochána and GSOC to resolve service level complaints began at the start of 2018. This local intervention was piloted in a Dublin district and is viewed as a positive step towards working collaboratively to achieve GSOC objectives.
- GSOC prepared a business case for a significant increase in staffing at the start of 2018. On 2 November 2018, Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD announced 42 posts sought were sanctioned. The recruitment plan is underway.
- GSOC welcomed the publication of the report from the Commission of Future Policing in Ireland in September. The report recognised the importance of independence when dealing with complaints about police conduct. 157 recommendations were made and welcomed by GSOC.
GSOC Communications & Research Unit