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County breakdown: 385% more breath tests entered in PULSE in Tipperary than actually carried out

A garda report into alcohol testing has found a difference of over 1.4 million between the number of tests counted and those actually carried out.

File photo.
File photo.
Image: Shutterstock/Checubus

Updated 8pm

TWO GARDA REPORTS into issues surrounding alcohol testing and fixed penalty notices have been published.

The report into Mandatory Alcohol Testing (MAT), which was published this afternoon, found a discrepancy of over 1.4 million between the number of tests counted on the garda PULSE system and the number actually registered by the force’s Dräger breathalyser devices.

This figure, which accounts for the period between 2009-2017, represents a 71% disparity between the number of tests recorded and those actually carried out.

Source: garda.ie

Earlier this year senior gardaí announced that around 933,000 false breath tests had been recorded during the seven year period however this morning RTE revealed that another 500,000 had been identified.

The report, which was compiled by Assistant Garda Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan, has borne this out.

Ten divisions were found to have gaps of over 100% between the number of tests recorded on the breathalyser devices and those counted on the PULSE system.

The region with the highest percentage difference was the South Eastern Region.

Source: Garda.ie

Tipperary was the division with, by far, the greatest difference, recording a gap of 385%.

The division of Meath came second with 315% while the national average was 71%.

All the incidents of inflated figures have been referred to regional commissioners however O’Sullivan notes that the report “did not discover any behaviour that would merit criminal investigation”.

Source: Garda.ie

The report identified a “combination of factors” that contributed to this inaccurate recording of test numbers.

These factors were:

  • Recording Issues
  • Suspected breath test inflation
  • Estimation of the numerical data in the PULSE checkpoint tab

It was not possible to give a weighting to each of the factors due to “limitations in the available data”.

The report stresses that senior Garda management were focused on the detection of drink driving.

It notes that the examination team found no evidence of “any tangible benefit” which would have acted as a catalyst to encourage Garda members to inflate breath test figures.

There was no career advancement or other obvious rewards to be gained from engaging in this practice.

Garda Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan said the reports “identify failures” in the force’s systems, processes, oversight, supervision and management.

“These failures are completely unacceptable and all of us in An Garda Síochána must now take responsibility for ensuring this cannot happen again,” the Commissioner said.

Changes have already been introduced and we are committed to ensuring the required cultural, behavioural and systems changes are made.

“It is vital that An Garda Síochána continues to have the public’s confidence and support in order to carry out our work,” O’Sullivan added.

Information from the report that was revealed earlier in the day prompted fresh calls for Commissioner O’Sullivan to step down.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he is “greatly disturbed” by the findings.

A separate report into the fixed charge penalty system, which saw almost 15,000 people incorrectly charged, was also published today.

The report found that the problem was not a deliberate act rather it was caused by the continuous upgrading of the system on a piecemeal basis.

READ: Fresh calls for Garda Commissioner to step down after latest revelations about false breath tests>

READ: Garda who quit force over alleged bullying launches High Court action after not being allowed rejoin>

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Ceimin Burke

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