GSOC publishes its 2019 Annual Report
The 2019 Annual Report of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has been published today.
The report provides an overview of the work of GSOC and includes statistics on the number of complaints received and closed and the number of investigations undertaken; case studies; and information about various types of investigations undertaken by GSOC.
The report also notes the Ombudsman Commission’s concern about the fact that the Garda Síochána continues to conduct criminal investigations of its own members without the knowledge or participation of GSOC. The issue has been raised by the Ombudsman Commission in discussions with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris and in the context of discussions on forthcoming legislation which will replace the Garda Síochána Act, 2005.
The Ombudsman Commission believes the new legislation should make explicit provision for independent oversight of all complaints against garda members regardless of the origin of the complaint.
Key figures in the 2019 Annual Report include:
- 1,756 complaints opened
- 2,885 allegations contained in those complaints
- 1,896 complaints closed
- 40 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’
- 44 public interest investigations were opened (these are investigations undertaken in the absence of a complaint or a referral from the Garda Commissioner)
- 31 protected disclosures were received
- 485 criminal investigations were opened
Significant developments for GSOC during 2019 included a major expansion in staff numbers on foot of an increase which was sanctioned towards the end of 2018, and the initiation of planning for a transformed Garda oversight body arising from the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland (CoFPI) Report.
The increase in staff allowed for a greater number of investigations, which might previously have been referred back to the Garda Síochána for investigation, to be carried out by GSOC investigators. This is in keeping with a CoFPI recommendation that the Ombudsman should investigate all complaints rather than have some of them investigated by senior gardaí as is currently the case.
A local intervention initiative (described in Section 4 of the report) which was initiated on a pilot basis in 2018 was rolled out nationwide in 2019. The local intervention process is aimed at resolving certain service-level types of complaints against members of the Garda Síochána—such as incivility, poor service, and lack of response to communications—at a local level without the need for the matter to enter a formal complaints process.
GSOC Communications Unit