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Garda used internal Pulse computer system to snoop on new girlfriend

The abuse of the Garda information system was one case outlined in the Gsoc review of 2016 complaints.

Image: Shutterstock/Ahmet 3A

A GARDA WHO went snooping for personal details on a new girlfriend on the Garda Pulse computer system received one of 75 sanctions imposed on gardai by the Garda authorities last year.

In the case, the Garda Siochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) investigated the woman’s claims that her ex-partner had accessed her personal details through Pulse.

According to the Gsoc Annual Report for 2016 and in the case, the woman told Gsoc that the garda had told her he had looked her up on the system when they had first started dating. An examination of the Pulse system showed that the garda had accessed the woman’s details.

Gsoc carried on a non-criminal investigation into the claim and the garda involved was interviewed and admitted accessing his former partner’s details and that it was not in an official capacity.

According to Gsoc, the garda concerned was found to be in breach of discipline and sanctioned.

In another case, two gardaí were sanctioned by their superiors for the manner in which they investigated allegations that a teenager had been sexually assaulted by an adult neighbour.

In the case, the teen’s parents complained to Gsoc that the Garda investigation was unnecessarily delayed, resulting in loss of evidence, and that vital witnesses were not interviewed.

A Garda superintendent investigated the parents’ complaints and was supervised by a Gsoc officer.

The superintendent’s recommendations were endorsed by Gsoc and two of the six gardaí investigated were found to be in breach of the Garda (Discipline) Regulations 2007 and were sanctioned.

Of the 75 sanctions imposed on gardai, the total included:

  • 22 fines
  • 30 instances of ‘advice’ issued
  • 11 cautions issued
  • 9 warnings
  • 3 reprimands.

The report confirms that Gsoc referred a further 13 cases to the Director of Public Prosecution (DPP) to decide if a prosecution should take place or not.

In total last year, Gsoc finalised 1,706 complaints involving 3,839 allegations. However, in respect of 1,850 allegations, the cases were discontinued where further investigation was not necessary or reasonably practicable.

In respect of a further 524 allegations, no breach of discipline was identified while the allegations were withdrawn in relation to a further 154 allegations while no misbehaviour in the criminal investigation by Gsoc of 33 allegations was identified.

In 2016, Gsoc received 1,758 complaints containing 3,768 allegations – a 12% decrease on the numbers of complaints received in 2015.

The types of allegations were similar to previous years, with about one-third related to abuse of authority and one-third to neglect of duty.

In the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR), the West and South Central Divisions had the highest numbers of allegations, while outside the DMR, Galway and Cork City were the Garda Divisions with the highest numbers of allegations.

The report states: “It is important to note that it follows that there is likely to be a higher number of complaints from larger, or busier, Divisions.”

At the start of 2016, Gsoc had four Protected Disclosure (PD) cases on hand and over the course of the year received an additional seven PDs.

The report states: “We expect this trend to continue into 2017. To this end, the Ombudsman Commission engaged with the Minister for Justice during the year about the need to commit additional resources to this important function, in order to deliver on it more effectively.”

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Gordon Deegan

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