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Sunday 3 December 2023 Dublin: 4°C
Sam Boal/Photocall Ireland
crime investigation

'Serious concerns' raised about Garda processes and systems

The report finds technology update needed for gardaí to do day-to-day policing duties.

Updated 18.00pm

THE GARDA INSPECTORATE report published this afternoon finds that there are serious concerns about Garda processes and systems. 

The report on the gardaí’s investigation of serious crime contains criticisms of the gardaí, recommending an upgrade in technology, effective systems and changes to management practice.

The total number of recorded crimes since 2008 has reduced year on year, the report confirms.

It states that there are examples of regular unit gardaí investigating serious crime such as rape, threats to life, aggravated burglary and child sexual abuse.


In other policing jurisdictions these types of crimes are usually investigated by trained detectives or officers assigned to specialist investigative units.

In more rural areas, the allocation of a serious crime might be determined by
who is available, rather than who has the skills and experience to investigate a
particular crime.

It states that some detectives are investigating complex crimes, such as fraud, without any specific training.

The report recommends that the gardaí should introduce a formal trainee detective programme focussing on developing and selecting future detectives.

While divisions and regions have developed “good skills” in murder investigation, the Inspectorate finds that there should be a dedicated investigation teams that deal with all murders and other specified serious crime.

It also stated that under performance of detectives must be addressed, rather than accommodated and that the roster is impacting on crime investigation.

“Currently, once appointed as a detective, very few people are removed from their post. During all visits the Inspectorate met detective supervisors who were frustrated by at least one individual detective level that was underperforming,” stated the report.

It said that as detective units are comprised of small numbers of people, when underperforms it impacts on the whole units performance.

Many gardaí have aspirations to become detectives an the retention of non-performing detective blocks their opportunity to progress.

There are approximately 700 untrained detectives currently working across Ireland.

In terms of the variances in the number of crimes investigated, there were huge disparities.

There is a variance in number of crimes investigated per detective, with the normal ranging somewhere between nine and 55. However, some detectives investigated 100 crimes a year and some less than ten crimes
per year.

Poor fingerprint recovery at crime scenes is also a key concern with no performance
data available on the quality of crime scene examinations. It’s recommended that with enhanced IT, electronic transmission of fingerprints directly from crime scenes to Fingerprint Section, should be achievable.

Serious crime 

This most recent report looks at how gardaí investigated serious crime cases over the last number of years, following on from allegations by Garda whistleblowers that many serious crimes were not investigated fully.

In its report, the Inspectorate finds the police service needs to modernise its crime investigation operational and support infrastructure.

The report identifies the absence of up-to-date dispatch technology as well as deficiencies in practices, supervision and governance relating to the recording, classification and investigation of crime.

The report examines the current system for counting and categorising recorded crime and detections for those crimes and highlights concerns in this area.

Robert K. Olson, Chief Inspector of the Garda Síochána said that he was surprised to see this many issues in the system.


Speaking about the report, the Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said:

The Inspectorate report raises serious concerns and represents a highly challenging analysis of Garda processes and systems, highlights serious systemic weaknesses; and will inform my ongoing reform of policing in Ireland.

Minister Fitzgerald said it vital that gardaí going about their day-to-day policing duties have access to modern systems which will ensure reliable recording of crime.

The Government and I accept this fully and I am working with my colleague Minister Howlin to secure the necessary and early investment in upgrading Garda technology to bring outdated paper based practices into the 21st century.

Olsen said that it would cost up to €40 million to upgrade the IT system.

The Minister added that “while rightly unsparing in its criticisms in relation to identified inadequacies, it also recognises that the systemic challenges and deficiencies identified during the inspection are not unique to An Garda Síochána but are common right throughout the world in policing services”.

The Minister said the report is a vital piece of work which is long overdue. She said the analysis provides an important foundation stone for future development of a 21st century policing.

The Inspectorate Report represents the culmination of more than two years of intensive work and is the largest and most comprehensive inspection done to date by the Inspectorate.

The report covers every facet of how the gardaí responds to and investigates crime is addressed, with more than 200 recommendations set out for implementation over the short, medium and long term.

First published 16.03pm

Read: Fitzgerald and O’Sullivan poring over report into serious crime investigations>

O’Sullivan: ‘No more Garda stations will be closed down’>

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