Inspectorate reviews Garda anti-corruption practices

Oversight body examining how force polices border with North and also domestic abuse

The Garda Inspectorate is a Garda oversight body and iIt examines areas of policing practice and recommends reforms on the basis of its findings.

The Garda Inspectorate is a Garda oversight body and iIt examines areas of policing practice and recommends reforms on the basis of its findings.

 

A major review into how the Garda tackles corruption within its ranks has begun. It is the first of its kind in the near 100-year history of the force.

It is being carried out by the Garda Inspectorate which has asked Hugh Hume, a former senior PSNI officer in the area of surveillance and intelligence, to lead the review.

Mr Hume, who was appointed deputy chief inspector of the Garda Inspectorate 18 months ago, is a former PSNI colleague of Garda Commissioner Drew Harris.

The inspectorate also intends to carry out other reviews into how the Garda polices the border with Northern Ireland and how it tackles domestic abuse. Other planned reviews will focus on how the Garda executes arrest warrants and how it manages bail cases.

The Garda Inspectorate’s review of how the Garda identifies and deals with corruption comes just weeks after Mr Harris announced the establishment of anti-corruption unit within the force.

Mr Harris last month said a new anti-corruption unit would seek to identify and address corruption within the force, stressing it would be proactive in seeking out corruption rather than responding to complaints.

New corruption unit

The new unit, he added, would be operational by the end of this year. The Garda Inspectorate has also now announced that its review of how corruption is dealt with by the Garda will be complete by the end of the year.

The Irish Times understands the Garda Inspectorate decided several months ago to proceed with its review into the Garda’s approach to internal corruption. However, while news of the review only emerged publicly on Friday morning, the Garda and Government have been aware of it for months.

The Garda Inspectorate is a Garda oversight body. It examines areas of policing practice and recommends reforms on the basis of its findings.

Under recent changes to the way it operates, the inspectorate is more independent and can chose to select an area of policing for review. Previously it required the approval of the Minister for Justice or the Policing Authority.

When the legislation was changed allowing the Garda Inspectorate to initiate its own reviews, it conducted a profile of the force to prioritise areas it would review in the years ahead.

Those priorities were selected and now form a work plan for the inspectorate for the three year period 2019 to 2021. The examination of how the Garda tackles corruption is one part of that plan.

Neither the corruption examination nor the timing of it is linked to any allegations of corruption against Garda members currently under investigation.

Its inspection of ‘Counter Corruption Practices within the Garda Síochána’ is its first self-initiated inspection.

“The inspection will focus on the effectiveness of the Garda Síochána at preventing, detecting and mitigating against internal corruption,” the inspectorate said in a statement.

For the purposes of its review, the Garda Inspectorate will define corruption as “any abuse of a position of trust in order to gain an undue advantage”.

‘Timely’

Mr Harris defined police corruption when asked last month as anything that militated against a “healthy” policing environment within the force.

The head of the Garda Inspectorate, Chief Inspector Mark Toland, believed a review of practices around corruption within the Garda is timely.

“While there is no doubt that the overwhelming majority of Garda members and staff are honest, professional and committed to the values outlined in the Garda code of ethics, the inspection will provide an independent forwarded looking report on the effectiveness of the Garda Síochána at preventing, detecting, and mitigating against internal corruption,” he said.

“This will complement the ongoing work of the Garda Commissioner in putting in place the processes to prevent and tackle corruption within the Garda Síochána”.

The inspectorate’s review around corruption in the Garda will examine how the force manages the risk of corruption, how it builds resilience against corruption through vetting potential members of the force and the supervision of members.

It will also examine specific areas such as “substance testing” - testing Garda members for drugs and intoxicants - professional boundaries, responding to disclosures and ethical decision-making.

And the review will examine how Garda corruption is investigated, including how confidential disclosures are dealt with and how intelligence is shared.

Deputy Chief Inspector Hume, who is leading the review, served as a member of the PSNI for over 30 years being joining the Garda Inspectorate in Dublin in November, 2017.

He spent the last six years of his career as detective chief superintendent at the PSNI’s Crime Operations Department.

In that role he oversaw the use of specialist resources including armed resources, surveillance and intelligence.