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Garda analysts 'were belittled and disrespected when they tried to highlight inaccurate homicide figures'

Two senior analysts were addressing an Oireachtas committee this morning.

Lois West speaking at the Oireachtas committee.
Lois West speaking at the Oireachtas committee.

TWO CIVILIAN MEMBERS of An Garda Síochána said they felt “belittled” and were treated with little respect when they tried to voice their concern over the inaccurate recording of homicides on the Pulse system.

Lois West, the Deputy Head of the Garda Síochána Analysis Service and Senior Crime and Policing Analyst Laura Galligan addressed a joint Oireachtas committee this morning where they outlined what they described as a raft of problems within the force.

The women were tasked to conduct a review of domestic homicide cases within the State between 2007 and 2016.

They began to crosscheck files held by the Office of the State Pathologist and the Garda Pulse system where they said they found a number of inaccuracies.

These included that over a dozen deaths which were considered to be homicides were incorrectly listed by officers as a non-crime.

Other anomalies included garda members registering a weapon used in an attack incorrectly. There were also occasions where hit-and-run incidents were registered as a collision indicating no criminal investigation was ongoing.

The two women also told the committee that the misclassification of some domestic crimes had left victims of abuse at risk of being attacked again.

Galligan said that when she brought these matters to the gardaí’s Policy Development, Implementation and Monitoring (PDIM) in 2017, her concerns were dismissed.

Risks

She told the committee that she “felt neither Ms West nor I were given the respect we deserved. Indeed, at times I felt we were belittled and treated very poorly”. They also said that they felt pressured to withdraw their concerns when they brought them to PDIM.

In a statement released this afternoon, Women’s Aid said it was concerned to hear the issues raised by West and Galligan.

Margaret Martin, Director of Women’s Aid, said that the review of the homicide the review of homicide cases were as a direct result of the findings of the Women’s Aid Femicide Watch and a joint initiative by Women’s Aid and the National Women’s Council of Ireland.

Martin said: “What we have heard today is very troubling. The women we support are often aware that their abuser has started a new relationship and are concerned about the safety of other women.

They know the risk. They know the fear but feel helpless. Domestic Violence perpetrators are dangerous and they rarely stop. We need to see the organisations tasked with protecting victims of domestic violence and preventing future victims take this issue as seriously and as urgently as it deserves.

In April last year, An Garda Síochána said it had completed a review of 41 deaths and identified “minor” classification issues, but stressed that each one had been properly investigated.

In June, it emerged that 89 homicides over a 14-year period were not counted due to an issue with the way they were recorded on the Pulse database.

Then Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan and some of her senior management team appeared before the Policing Authority where they were asked for updates on data management issues relating to breath test and homicide figures.

Dr Gurchand Singh the head of analytic services in An Garda Síochána gave a breakdown of his findings, telling authority members that the homicide category takes in death caused by dangerous driving as well as murder and manslaughter.

In total, from 2003 to May 2017, there were 89 additional homicides that had not been counted in official garda figures.

Read: Policing Authority to question garda commissioner about missing homicide figures

More: Gardaí reveal 89 homicides over 14 years were not counted due to ‘process issue’

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