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Harris to brief Policing Authority on Garda dispatch system cancelling of domestic violence response

The garda report examined 3,000 calls and found hundreds of calls were cancelled incorrectly.

Image: PA

COMMISSIONER DREW HARRIS is set to brief the Policing Authority today on an internal garda inquiry into 3,000 calls to 999 that found that gardaí cancelled hundreds of domestic violence calls incorrectly.

The Garda Commissioner Drew Harris is due to appear before the Policing Authority to explain the problem between 2019 and 2020.

The internal study, led by Assistant Commissioner Barry O’Brien, was order by the Commissioner when a victim of domestic abuse raised concerns about the nature of the 999 response.

O’Brien examined 3,000 calls in the two year period. An interim report found that half of these calls were cancelled correctly but hundreds of calls were not.

It is expected that Harris will tell the Policing Authority that there is now going to be a broader enquiry and gardaí as well as the people who called for help will be interviewed.

Harris has acknowledged previously that there was an issue around the cancelling of calls. Members of the Policing Authority have listened to recordings of the cancelled incidents. 

Sources have said the probe centres around the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system which is an antiquated IT system which has been in operation for 30 years. 

It was, in recent years, rolled out across the country as An Garda Síochána sought to remove the pen and paper from control rooms. 

Each call is logged on this system and then a garda unit is assigned to it. The CAD system then has details of each call, the response and outcome when gardaí attend at a scene. 

The probe has examined why individual domestic violence incidents did not receive a garda response. Sources have said that there may be similar problems with other 999 call incidents.  

It is understood the report has found that it was a systemic failing and that the system has been changed to prevent certain types of calls to be cancelled before gardaí attend the scene. 

A source, with knowledge of the issue said: “The investigation has had to trawl through several layers on this one.

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“A lot of individual incidents would generate multiple calls to the 999 line and then individual entries on CAD are required to be cancelled, the problem arose when the incidents were cancelled entirely before gardai were dispatched.”  

In late April Harris told a Policing Authority meeting that there was a problem with the system’s response and said that an investigation was underway. 

Gardaí are in the process of procuring a new €13.5m CAD system which will be provided by Saab Technologies UK.

In 2009 the Garda Inspectorate identified the CAD was in serious need of mondernisation and should be replaced immediately. 

The CAD was used exclusively in Dublin until recent years when the system was rolled out into areas outside of Dublin.

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