New decade, new website

9 Oct 2017

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) has launched a new website, to mark the start of a new decade of independent police complaint management.

The new-look aims to make information more comprehensive, clear and concise – a focus of the recent EU directive and the impending domestic legislation about the rights of victims of crime. They are principles that we have applied across our dealings with the public.

An online complaint form and information on what to expect from the complaints process will now be available in ten languages. Translation and interpreting services will be used as required, to make our service more accessible to those whose first language is not English.

The launch of the new website coincides with the tenth anniversary year of the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission – the organisation opened its doors in May 2007.

Establishing an independent ombudsman for policing was a significant milestone for Ireland’s justice system and for its society. It has not necessarily been easy to establish this new system and to achieve acceptance of it but the Ombudsman Commission believes that it is in a strong position now, after ten years of learning, to move towards a more efficient and effective organisation in the next decades.

Over its first decade, the Garda Ombudsman has:

  • Listened to and advised over 40,000 people.
  • Independently processed over 20,000 complaints.
  • Investigated or informally resolved over 6,000 of those cases itself.
  • Provided a new and important level of oversight of disciplinary investigations. Reviews of disciplinary investigations undertaken by Garda officers are conducted by the Garda Ombudsman, these investigations are supervised when it is deemed to be in the public interest and significant disciplinary matters have been investigated by GSOC itself.

Research conducted as part of the Behaviour & Attitudes Omnibus (Barometer) in 2016 shows that awareness of the existence and importance of a police ombudsman is widespread across the Irish population. After a decade of operation:

  • Over eight in ten Irish adults say they have heard of the Garda Ombudsman.
  • Seven in ten adults believe that the Garda Ombudsman provides an important service.
  • When asked whether they believed that GSOC makes gardaí more accountable for their actions, 83% of people agreed or strongly agreed that they do.

GSOC Chair Justice Mary Ellen Ring says:
“A lot has been achieved by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission since its establishment in 2007. But there remains a lot to do. I look forward to working with my colleagues and with the other police oversight bodies – the Policing Authority and the Garda Inspectorate –to build on the work that has been done to date and continue to improve oversight of policing in Ireland over the next decade.”