Garda sanctioned for snooping on new partner on Pulse system

GSOC last year referred 13 cases to DPP to decide if prosecution should take place

In total last year, GSOC finalised 1,706 complaints involving 3,839 allegations. In respect of 1,850 allegations, the cases were discontinued where further investigation was not necessary or reasonably practicable. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

In total last year, GSOC finalised 1,706 complaints involving 3,839 allegations. In respect of 1,850 allegations, the cases were discontinued where further investigation was not necessary or reasonably practicable. Photograph: Bryan O’Brien

 

A Garda who went snooping for personal details on a new girlfriend on the force’s Pulse computer system was one of 75 officers sanctioned by the Garda authorities last year.

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

In the case, disclosed in GSOC’s annual report for 2016, the woman told investigators that the garda had told her he had looked her up on the system when they first started dating.

An examination of the system, which would hold personal information such as criminal records, confirmed 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 the details. He confirmed the information was not viewed in an official capacity.

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

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 teenager’s parents complained to GSOC that the investigation was unnecessarily delayed and that this had resulted in a loss of evidence. They also said important witnesses had not been interviewed.

A Garda superintendent investigated the family’s complaints, under the supervision of 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 gardaí, there were 22 fines; 30 instances of “advice” being issued, 11 cautions issued; nine warnings and three reprimands.

The report states that GSOC referred a further 13 cases to the Director of Public Prosecutions (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. Allegations were withdrawn in relation to a further 154 matters, while no misbehaviour was identified in the criminal investigation by GSOC of 33 allegations.

GSOC received 1,758 complaints containing 3,768 allegations last year – a 12 per cent decrease on the total received in 2015.

The types of allegations were similar to previous years, with about a third related to abuse of authority and a 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.

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

At the start of 2016, GSOC had four protected-disclosure cases on hand and over the course of the year received an additional seven.

“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,” the report states.