Garda homicide data whistleblower made to feel ‘like silly little girl’ by officers, WRC told

Lois West says she was penalised after making protected disclosure

A senior analyst who exposed serious errors with An Garda Síochána’s homicide data has described being made to feel like a “silly little girl” during meetings about the matter.

Lois West, the civilian deputy head of An Garda Síochána Analysis Service (GSAS) alleged at the Workplace Relations Commission (WRC) on Monday that senior officers did not take her views seriously and sought to belittle her and a colleague.

She went on to make a number of protected disclosures for which she alleges she was penalised.

Ms West alleges she suffered “continuing penalisation” after bringing the statistical deficiencies to public attention in 2018, including alleged sexual harassment by a superior.


She has brought parallel statutory complaints against the Garda Commissioner, the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and the Government under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014 and the Health, Safety and Welfare at Work Act 2005 – along with a claim under the Payment of Wages Act.

Giving evidence on the first day of the hearing, Ms West said she joined the Royal Ulster Constabulary as an analyst in 1998 and worked on the Omagh bomb review and on a “top secret” project with MI5. She began working with the Garda in 2007 and helped set up its analysis section.

She said she was asked to carry out a review of homicide data in 2016 relating to the misclassification of cases and various data quality problems. She was part of a team with senior officers assigned to investigate the problems. The team had nine meetings between January and March 2017.

Ms West said she became concerned early on that the Garda team members did not want to hear about the issues with the data. She told her barrister David Byrnes that after the first two or three meetings she was asked by a garda what she expected to achieve.

“We were told they’re not going to get rid of a €10 million system,” she said, explaining this was a reference to the Garda Pulse system that records crime data. “There were definite attempts to insinuate we didn’t know what we were talking about because we were not investigators.”

Ms West said she and her colleague from GSAS were made to feel like they were wrong. They did not get a “fair hearing” and were shouted down when they tried to raise issues, she alleged, describing the discussions as “very robust”.

The witness said she remembers telling her boss at the time that “this feels like a whitewash”. She said she was belittled when she tried to introduce examples of data problems at the meetings.

She said senior gardaí wanted to “bury it and make it go away” as the force was dealing with several other controversies at the time, including issues around the recording of penalty points and breathalyser tests.

Ms West also alleges senior gardaí misled meetings of the Policing Authority and the Oireachtas justice and committee while discussing the homicide data.

The hearing was told that Ms West emailed her manager at one stage and described being “totally fed up with everyone getting away with cover ups and lies”.

“We have been telling them there have been problems for years and they have done nothing to fix them,” the email stated. She said she and her colleague were “made to feel like silly little girls”.

During one alleged incident, Ms West’s manager burst into her office and “paced up and down my floor telling me how angry he was”. She said the incident was “quite humiliating” and caused her to cry afterwards.

Ms West will continue giving evidence on Tuesday.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times