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'Significant concern' over lack of breath testing at scenes of fatal crashes

The authority has outlined a series of concerns about how the force operates.

Image: Sam Boal/RollingNews.ie

THE POLICING AUTHORITY has expressed concern that gardaí are not performing breath tests at all serious and fatal road crashes.

Today the authority published two documents – its mid-year assessment on policing performance and its fifth report to the Minister for Justice on progress in implementing reform.

Although both reports note “considerable activity in policing and modernising the organisation”, the authority said An Garda Síochána is missing targets in the policing plan “to a considerable extent”.

The authority said despite increases in resources in roads policing, there is a reduced level of detections of lifesaver offences [like drink-driving] compared to 2017 and the number of multi-agency checkpoints has been below target.

“Critically, the action plan to address the recommendations of the Crowe Horwath review [of falsified breath test numbers] has not been produced and key issues remain,” it said.

“For example there is a failure to conduct testing at serious and fatal road collisions in a significant proportion of cases, with 42% of drivers not being tested in serious injury collisions and 22% of drivers not being tested in fatal collisions in the period from 2004 to 2016.

An ongoing and significant concern for the authority is that breath tests must be performed at serious and fatal traffic collisions. Currently, this is not being completed in all cases where, for example, a driver is hospitalised.
The rationale provided for this failure points further to the need for better governance and accountability in this area and urgency to address the issues that are impeding the fulfilment of statutory obligations.

Other concerns expressed in these documents include:

  • Recruitment has not been matched by a clear strategic focus on how to reap the benefits of this investment in terms of deployment and training
  • Crime in all groups except homicide is up and while there has been “considerable success” in disrupting organised crime, detection rates are continuing to fall
  • Strong levels of trust and local support continue to be expressed in the gardaí while confidence in the management of the organisation remains low

The authority said An Garda Síochána’s planning process “should, but doesn’t, adequately plan for such enablers as accommodation, people, technology, training and very importantly communicating and embedding changes throughout the organisation”.

“The authority firmly believes that the Garda Síochána needs at this juncture to pause briefly and reconsider in a determined and focused way the end to which its efforts and resources are being directed, as well as what key enablers and levers it needs to achieve that change.”

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