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Gardaí fail to notify GSOC about more than half of taser discharges within required 48-hour period

The requirement was introduced by gardaí in 2010 to help GSOC gather evidence.

Image: Shutterstock/devonx

GARDAÍ FAILED TO report more than half of incidents where a taser was discharged within the required timeframe, figures seen by show.

Records released by the Garda Ombudsman (GSOC) under Freedom of Information reveal that 37 out of a total of 77 such incidents between 2016 and 2018 were reported to its office within 48 hours.

The office must be notified by Gardaí within 48 hours any time a firearm, taser or incapacitant – such as pepper spray – is discharged.

The requirement was introduced in 2010 to ensure that GSOC can gather any evidence about potential wrongdoing while it was still fresh.

However, last year was the first in three years that GSOC was notified about taser discharges on time more often than not, with 19 out of 29 reports received within the required timeframe.

This figure was up from 13 out of 25 taser discharges in 2017, and from five out of 13 taser discharges in 2016.

In some instances, gardaí were not notified until weeks after a taser was discharged.

Last year, a discharge by the Special Detective Unit on 14 September was not reported to GSOC until 2 October.

In 2017, a taser discharged by gardaí in Waterford on 13 February was not reported to GSOC until 9 March, while another discharge by the Armed Support Unit in the east of the country on 17 April was not reported until 13 June – nearly two months later.

Figures released by GSOC also showed that the overwhelming majority of instances where pepper spray was discharged by a garda were not reported within 48 hours.

Between 2016 and 2018, 323 out of 1,607 – or roughly one in five – instances where pepper spray was discharged was reported within the required timeframe.

Although the figure rose significantly last year, just 243 out of 646 pepper spray discharges were reported in 2018.

In dozens of instances, it was months before GSOC was notified.

One discharge by gardaí in Cork’s Anglesea Street station on 2 February, 2017 was not reported until 22 August, while another instance on 10 September involving gardaí in Fethard, Tipperary was not reported to GSOC until 2 October, 2018 – over a year later.

A spokeswoman for GSOC said there was still “much to be done” to improve figures, but said figures had improved last year due to a closer working relationship between the ombudsman and gardaí.

She added that the ombudsman also provided regular training to all newly trained firearms officers, including specialist units such as the Emergency Reponse Unit, which had also helped to improve figures last year.

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