New system unveiled for cancellation of penalty points

Acting Garda Commissioner says regular audits will be carried out to identify any abuses by gardaí

A new, centralised system for the cancellation of penalty points is to be introduced to prevent abuses of the system. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

A new, centralised system for the cancellation of penalty points is to be introduced to prevent abuses of the system. Photograph: Cyril Byrne/The Irish Times

Tue, Jun 17, 2014, 21:37

Motorists seeking to have penalty points terminated will apply through a centralised system that individual gardaí they might approach for the purposes of lobbying will have no influence over.

Under the new system unveiled by Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald and acting Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan today, 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.

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 that the Garda would be involved in.

“As with all the stakeholders involved in the on-going 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 underway since two Garda whistleblowers created a policing scandal that would eventually lead to the snap retirement of former garda commissioner Martin Callinan and resignation of former minister for justice Alan Shatter.

Sgt Maurice McCabe and former garda John Wilson alleged the termination of large numbers of penalty points across the Garda force.

And while the corruption that some independent Dáil deputies alleged has never been proved, the State’s treatment of the whistleblowers became a bigger scandal then the allegations there were making.

Under the new system, motorists will not be able to have points cancelled by gardai they know simply 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, regular audits of the system will be conducted and the Garda’s internal manual for the penalty points system will be updated.