Garda makes ‘significant progress’ in handling 999 calls after recommendations

Report had identified substantial shortcomings resulting in victims not receiving the immediate help they needed

“Significant progress” on recommendations surrounding the handling of 999 calls where substantial shortcomings were previously identified has been made by An Garda Síochána, according to a new review.

The recommendations came after an independent report published in 2022 identified substantial shortcomings in call handling, giving rise to the potential for serious harm to victims.

The report by Derek Penman, former chief inspector of constabulary in Scotland, was commissioned after it emerged that thousands of emergency calls were cancelled by gardaí, resulting in some victims not receiving the immediate assistance they required.

One of the key responses to date is that dispatchers can no longer cancel or close incidents without deploying a unit and assigning a member. The response comes after the report found members had requested dispatchers to cancel incidents and avoided initiating follow-up activities such as welfare checks and crimes or intelligence being recorded.


Manually entering phone numbers has also been eliminated through the new GardaSafe system for emergency calls which also “heavily leverages” pre-loaded Eircodes. The response comes after incidents where information provided by callers was found to be recorded incorrectly, resulting in some gardaí being sent to the wrong locations.

Some callers could not be recontacted due to incorrect phone numbers being noted while the report also identified occasions where a service was not provided to callers who remained unidentified.

The GardaSafe system also provides enhanced visibility through dashboards to real-time data on performance and compliance which will “significantly enhance” supervisors’ ability to identify and address issues quickly.

The response comes as An Garda Síochána recognised that sergeants and supervisors had insufficient capacity to check all incidents with the original report identifying very limited evidence of supervisory checks.

Separately, the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) conducted a review of the very high-risk domestic violence and sexual assault incidents which were identified during the review.

The Domestic Abuse Intervention & Policy Unit (DAIPU) reviewed each call and identified six incidents warranting further contact due to an apparent lack of engagement or limited information recorded.

Victim engagement took place in each of the incidents, which confirmed the original call had been dealt with and there had been no adverse impact or detriment to the victim.

The two recommendations not yet implemented include an agreed framework to facilitate independent call listening and incident audits by the Policing Authority until the creation of the Policing and Community Safety Authority (PCSA).

The recommended engagement between An Garda Síochána and the Policing Authority to define adverse impact has also not been implemented.

Using the agreed definition, it was envisioned that An Garda Síochána would assess the nature and extent of the risks, harms and detriment experienced by victims whose incidents were cancelled. However, without the definition, the assessment remains unactioned.

Elaine Byrne, chairwoman of the Policing Authority, said “significant progress” had been made by gardaí.

“The 999 emergency call line is a crucial public service that we rely on in moments of crisis and it is essential that the public, including the most vulnerable, have confidence in the consistency and quality of the service,” she said.

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