Homicide review confirms shortcomings in Garda investigations

Cases examined after data analysts raised concerns about standards in 2016

The review found examples of cases that were misclassified, poor record-keeping and witness statements not being taken or taken late. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

The review found examples of cases that were misclassified, poor record-keeping and witness statements not being taken or taken late. File photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

 

The investigation into the classification and investigation of homicides by the Garda Siochána has found shortcomings but none that are believed to have affected the outcomes of criminal inquiries, the Policing Authority has said.

Forty-one homicides were examined after two civilian data analysts raised concerns about how cases they were reviewing in 2016 had been classified and investigated.

The two analysts, Lois West and Laura Galligan, told the Oireachtas Committee on Justice in 2018 that they were “belittled and treated poorly”, their integrity “undermined and attacked”, and pressured to back away from their findings.

The final report has now been completed, the authority heard at a public meeting with senior Garda management on Wednesday, and the main findings and recommendations will be published soon.

However, the Policing Authority said the full report could not be published because it contained sensitive details about specific homicides and unlawful killings up to and including murders.

The review found cases that were misclassified and that expertise needed for some investigations was not available. There were also other problems such as record-keeping, witness statements not being taken or taken late.

Shortcomings

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris conceded shortcomings had been found even in “major and quite complex investigations”. Some of the problems found affected investigations in the last year, though the nature of those shortcomings was not specified.

Commissioner Harris said the Garda will now introduce systems of peer reviews and also serious case reviews, where expert investigators would effectively check investigations into homicides and other crimes.

“Other jurisdictions use these processes to make sure the quality of murder investigations, homicide investigations, are up to an acceptable standard and consistent across the country,” he said.

The analysts who unearthed the problems found homicides recorded as non-crime incidents, much-delayed recordings of homicides and cases where the wrong weapon was recorded.

Other homicides were recorded in the wrong year, some were recorded as public disorder incidents and in one case involving murder and suicide it was recorded as a “non crime” incident.