New penalty point termination system unveiled

Only the Garda’s centralised processing office in Thurles will be able to review applications, make decisions and affect cancellations

A garda operating a speed camera: Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said yesterday the new system would not only improve the enforcement and operation of the penalty points system but would also enhance oversight. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

A garda operating a speed camera: Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald said yesterday the new system would not only improve the enforcement and operation of the penalty points system but would also enhance oversight. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

Wed, Jun 18, 2014, 01:00

Motorists seeking to have penalty points terminated will in future apply through a centralised system over which individual gardaí whom they might try to lobby will have no influence.

Under the new system unveiled by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and acting Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan yesterday, regular audits will be carried out with a view to identifying any abuses, including the cancellation of points for no legitimate reason.

Ms Fitzgerald said the new system would not only improve the enforcement and operation of the penalty points system but would also enhance oversight.

Review

The reforms, she added, were based on recommendations made by the Garda Inspectorate after it reviewed how the points were processed and terminated.

Ms O’Sullivan said the changes were just one part of a much longer reform process the Garda would be involved in.

“As with all the stakeholders involved in the ongoing development of the fixed charge penalty system, An Garda Síochána’s primary focus is in ensuring that the system continues its success in improving road safety and reducing road deaths.”

The new system arises from a review of the penalty points system under way since two Garda whistleblowers created a policing scandal that eventually led to the retirement of Garda commissioner Martin Callinan and the resignation of minister for justice Alan Shatter.

Whistleblowers

Sgt Maurice McCabe and former garda John Wilson alleged there was widespread termination of penalty points.

Under the new system, gardaí will not be able to cancel penalty points simply by logging into a database and terminating them.

Instead, all terminations must be applied for on uniform “cancellation forms” that must contain a legitimate proven reason for the points being taken from a licence.

Only the Garda’s centralised fixed charge processing office in Thurles, Co Tipperary, will review applications, make decisions and affect cancellations in those cases where they are granted.

Information on how the system works has already been made available on the Garda’s website.