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Policing Authority denies it 'told tales' on garda civilian staff who raised concerns

The analysts said they were pressured to sign off on inaccurate data.

Policing Authority Chair Josephine Feehily told the committee that the authority assured the analysts that their concerns were being investigated.
Policing Authority Chair Josephine Feehily told the committee that the authority assured the analysts that their concerns were being investigated.
Image: Oireachtas.ie

THE POLICING AUTHORITY has rejected suggestions that it breached the confidence of analysts working in An Garda Síochána who raised concerns about the internal review of homicide figures.

The Policing Authority is currently investigating the classification of 41 cases and today its chair Josephine Feehily confirmed 12 of these cases have been reclassified upwards to homicide. A further 16 of these also had some changes.

She said that while the authority has evidence that there was an investigation in each of these cases, it is “not yet reassured about the quality” of these investigations.

Members of the committee questioned Feehily about comments made recently by members of the Garda Analysis Service, who had brought concerns to the authority about inaccurate data provided to it by senior officers.

Deputy head of the Garda Analysis Service Lois West and senior crime and policing analyst Laura Galligan claim they were pressured to sign off on homicide data they knew was inaccurate.

Concerns

Galligan had, in 2016, identified issues with the recording of a number of deaths as part of an internal review, but she and the rest of her colleagues in the analysis service were later excluded from the compiling of a report for the Policing Authority when it started to ask questions about homicide data.

A report compiled by garda officers was instead presented to the Policing Authority and was rejected, as Feehily said today there were “significant concerns” about its tone, content and accuracy.

Appearing before the committee two weeks ago, Lois West, who had contacted the authority a number of times, said a member of senior management spoke to her last August about the fact that she had approached the regulatory body to blow the whistle.

She said she felt compromised, that the authority had “told tales” and that there had been a breach of trust.

However Feehily said today the “fact that they were in touch with us was not confidential”.

“It was a matter that was generally known,” she said. West and Galligan had written a letter in May to the Garda Commissioner to highlight their concerns, and this had been handed over to the authority.

Several members asked Feehily why West and Galligan were not invited to a meeting the regulator had with garda managers about the homicide figures after they had asked to be included.

Feehily said that West had been told that the authority had “no difficulty” with them attending, but that it was a matter for the gardaí who attends their meetings.

“If we become involved in a resolving a professional conflict, we ourselves are conflicted,” she told the committee.

“I presume she asked to attend because she had opposing views to other people attending,” Independent TD Clare Daly commented.

“This was the top person with hands-on access to information, in this area of rank they wouldn’t normally be asking for help from the Policing Authority – if that didn’t ring an alarm bell..” she said.

Feehily said that in hindsight, the authority could have suggested garda management include the two analysts in the meeting.

She also acknowledged the civilian staff, who said they had endured “15 months of torment”after raising issues, had been treated in a “deplorable” manner.

The Policing Authority will publish an interim report on homicide data in An Garda Síochána next month.

Related: ‘How in God’s name could that be called a comprehensive analysis?’: Garda homicide figures probed>
Read: Unarmed gardaí posted outside the homes of gangland targets having safety reviewed>

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