Inquiries under way into Garda personnel alleged to have cancelled 999 calls

Garda chief Drew Harris shocked by cancellation of 53 emergency calls

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said he ‘wished he had an insight’ into the motivations of those involved

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said he ‘wished he had an insight’ into the motivations of those involved

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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris expressed shock after some 999 calls continue to be cancelled despite the controversy that erupted when the practice was exposed last year.

Disciplinary investigations have begun into the Garda personnel who are alleged to have cancelled a total of 53 calls and they face sanctions if found guilty.

Speaking at a meeting of the Policing Authority yesterday, Mr Harris said he “wished he had an insight” into the motivations of those involved.

“In truth I don’t, I really don’t understand it,” he said. “None of this has any benefit to them, yet it has exposed all of them to the peril of inquiry.”

Policing Authority chairman Bob Collins said it was “completely incredible and an extraordinarily risky and grave matter” to continue cancelling 999 calls, especially after the controversy of recent months.

It was also “wholly inappropriate and utterly dismissive” to discharge a serious responsibility to the public in that way, he said.

Domestic violence victims

It emerged late last year that tens of thousands of calls had been cancelled from the start of 2019 to October 2020. These included more than 21,000 “priority one” calls, which relate to people who were in danger, such as domestic violence victims. In some cases, no policing response was provided to people who rang 999 and the crimes they were reporting were never recorded.

Internal Garda investigations subsequently found the number of victims missed and crimes not recorded was much lower than first feared. When many of the calls were examined, there was a legitimate reason for the cancellation. However, an independent inquiry into the practice is continuing.

Mr Harris said yesterday almost all of the 53 recently cancelled calls related to alarms being triggered.

He said he believed they would have been cancelled if they had been forwarded to supervisors in the manner they should have been, instead of staff taking it upon themselves to take a “shortcut” and cancel them.

Mr Collins said it was “a strikingly, almost bizarre development”, especially when the calls looked so “mundane”.