At least 21 barring orders issued against gardaí since start of 2019, figures show

Five orders involve ‘elements of coercive control’ under Domestic Violence Act 2018

A barring order is granted by a judge and requires an abusive person to leave the home and prohibits them from returning. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

A barring order is granted by a judge and requires an abusive person to leave the home and prohibits them from returning. Photograph: Oli Scarff/Getty Images

 

Barring orders have been issued against at least 21 serving members of An Garda Síochána since the start of 2019.

Figures provided in response to queries from The Irish Times show that five of the orders, issued under the Domestic Violence Act 2018, involve “elements of coercive control”.

A barring order is granted by a judge and requires an abusive person to leave the home and prohibits them from returning. The orders, which can be obtained in court by a spouse or someone who has been in a relationship with the respondent, aim to stop further violence, threats of violence, and people being watched or communicated with by an individual.

Under An Garda Síochána’s domestic abuse intervention policy, members are required to report the existence of any such orders for which they are a respondent under the Act.

The offence of coercive control – a pattern of intimidation or humiliation involving psychological or emotional abuse – was introduced when the Act came into effect in January 2019.

Before the courts

An Garda Síochána said one member of the force is currently before the district court charged with the offence but the figures state that none have been convicted of coercive control to date.

The force said that since the start of 2019 a total of 21 cases have been “reported to Internal Affairs in which a serving member is a respondent for an order issued under the Domestic Violence Act 2018.

“Nine of the 21 cases are subject to internal disciplinary enquiries for breaches of a domestic violence order, in addition to ongoing criminal investigations,” it said in a statement.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris this week said criminal investigations into gardaí accused of sexual crimes or domestic violence are being reviewed to ensure they are being dealt with properly and quickly.

Controversy

The move follows the controversy in the UK over the murder of Sarah Everard by former Metropolitian police officer Wayne Couzens. It has since emerged that there were criminal suspicions about him as far back as 2015 that were not acted on, including allegations of indecent exposure.

A team of Garda investigators has been assembled to carry out checks on current Garda investigations into members of the force accused of sexual or domestic violence crimes, including breaching barring and protection orders. The team will operate under the auspices of the Garda’s Protective Services Bureau, which investigates sexual, gender-based and domestic violence crimes.

While the initial wave of reviews would involve checking that live investigations were being progressed professionally and quickly, and that full files were being sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions, Mr Harris said once that work was completed, older cases were also likely to be checked.