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Commissioner says hundreds of crimes not investigated due to 999 call cancellations

Almost 2,800 calls, with many relating to domestic abuse, were incorrectly cancelled.

Image: Leon Farrell/

THE GARDA COMMISSIONER has said a review has identified almost 400 crimes that were not investigated due to cancelled 999 calls. 

More than 200,000 calls were cancelled over a two-year period between 2019 and 2020, the ongoing garda review this year found, with 23,000 of those classed as ‘priority’ calls.

While many of those cancellations were found to be valid cancellations or duplicates, thousands – including a significant number of calls relating to domestic abuse – were incorrectly cancelled. 

In an update given to the Policing Authority today, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said almost 2,800 calls, with most relating to domestic abuse, have been confirmed to be invalid cancellations. 

He said 395 new Pulse incidents have been created as a result of the review and gardaí will now investigate these crimes. He acknowledged that the almost 400 crimes would not have been investigated if the review had never taken place. 

The commissioner said the final number of crimes that were not investigated may reach as high as 500 by the end of the review process. 

Harris said 5,871 ‘priority one’ incidents have been identified through the review, with 4,000 of those relating to domestic abuse, 1,400 relating to health and 310 relating to missing persons.

“What we’re doing is working through those, seeing which of those, in effect, had a valid closure. Some of those are mainly duplicate calls, and there’s almost 2,700 of those. We did a further assessment then of the invalid closures. A further 2,800 were confirmed as being invalid,” he said.

“An assessment is conducted at a regional level and 1,360 of those cases have then been given to divisions to do work.”

He said that while bigger urban divisions have the highest number of cases to work through, there are some in every division.

The Commissioner said 121 victims out of the total of 1,360 have yet to be contacted.

Harris said “good work” is being done in division to engage with victims who are impacted by the call cancellations.

“In most of the cases, this has been a very positive exercise in reconnecting and then following through in terms of either support or indeed in some cases, subsequent investigation.”

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The commissioner said gardaí are committed to the victims of domestic abuse and appealed to victims to continue to contact gardaí.

The former head of the Scottish police inspectorate Terry Penman has been appointed by the Policing Authority to examine the garda review into the cancellation of the calls.

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