High degree of risk facing garda in the course of everyday work apparent

Sat, Jan 19, 2013, 00:00

President of the Garda Representative Association John Parker said that while the injuries contained in the Garda database were at the extreme end of the assaults suffered by gardaí during the course of their duties, they underlined the “high-risk work” of members of the force.

“A normal traffic stop has the potential to result in an assault,” Mr Parker said. “But you don’t go into the job thinking about this kind of thing. When you take your stab-proof vest out of the locker, it is like putting on your hat. But if you leave the vest off, then you become very aware that you don’t have it on.”

He said there were about 800 instances per year where gardaí were recorded as having sustained a work-related injury but he added that this figure did not take into account frequent incidents where gardaí were “verbally abused, pushed or shoved, or spat at” or where they received bruises and cuts.

He said the association has called for such instances to be recorded in a separate category on the Garda Pulse system.

In its reply to The Irish Times’s Freedom of Information request, the Department of Justice said that the Garda Síochána (Compensation) Acts 1941-1945 operate on the basis that the injured member (or specified family members in the case of death) may apply to the Minister for Justice and Equality for authorisation for leave to apply to the High Court for compensation in respect of their injuries: “One of the Minister’s main functions under the Acts is to consider the level of injury sustained by the garda and to decide whether the injury is sufficiently serious to attract compensation under the Acts.”

Last year, the Government approved proposals for a revised Garda compensation scheme which would enable the State Claims Agency to administer the scheme on behalf of the Garda Commissioner.

The proposals aim to reduce the length of time affected gardaí have to wait for awards, while it is expected that it will save the State about €3 million each year in reduced awards, legal fees and administrative costs.