More gardaí expected to come forward to reveal barring orders

Force checking on live investigations into Garda members accused of domestic violence

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that in the wake of the Sarah Everard murder in the UK by former Met police officer Wayne Couzens, the Garda force wanted to be sure any investigations into serving members were being conducted quickly and thoroughly. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said that in the wake of the Sarah Everard murder in the UK by former Met police officer Wayne Couzens, the Garda force wanted to be sure any investigations into serving members were being conducted quickly and thoroughly. Photograph: Niall Carson/PA Wire

 

Senior Garda management expect more serving members of the force to come forward and declare barring orders were granted by the courts against them as a new wave of investigation is under way in the force.

So far 21 serving gardaí have come forward to declare a barring or related order was taken out against them in the near three years since the start of 2019.

Of the 21 serving members who have declared they were subject of an order, nine are under investigation for alleged breach of the orders. And of the nine under investigation, five cases involved an alleged coercive control component.

Last week Garda Commissioner Drew Harris announced he was assembling a small team of investigators to make checks on live investigations into Garda members accused of domestic or sexual violence. He said that in the wake of the Sarah Everard murder in the UK by former Met police officer Wayne Couzens, the Garda force wanted to be sure any investigations into serving members were being conducted quickly and thoroughly.

Mr Harris added he wanted to be sure all investigations were being conducted up to the point of a file being submitted to the DPP. And when the live investigations were all reviewed, it was likely historical investigations into Garda members accused of domestic or sexual allegations would be checked.

Other offences

It has emerged that Couzens, who used his power as a police officer to abduct, rape and murder Ms Everard in London in March, was suspected of other offences, including indecent exposure. A review is under way to establish whether those allegations were fully investigated. Mr Harris said the Garda force would “build on” the lessons learned in the UK case.

“We want to be sure that we are providing a high-quality investigative service and we are looking towards making sure our own organisation is in the position that it is protecting women and can have the confidence of women, that it is protecting them from violence,” he said.

Mr Harris added a vetting policy within the Garda was being developed and if allegations of sexual crimes or domestic violence were made against Garda members and no prosecution arose, it could still influence where those members served in future.

In reply to queries from The Irish Times, the Garda said that since the start of 2019 a total of 21 cases of barring orders being issued against serving members of the force have been “reported to Internal Affairs . . . under the Domestic Violence Act, 2018”.

Wrongdoing

Senior Garda sources added that given the attention now being placed on investigating allegations of wrongdoing – disciplinary and criminal – in the Garda force and the remarks by Mr Harris last week, more serving members were expected to declare barring and related orders had been issued against them.

The same sources said the failure to declare such an order being issued would be viewed as a serious breach in the “new environment” within the force. Because of that, more declarations about orders already issued were expected. However, the same sources said it was impossible to predict how many more declarations may be made.

Barring and related orders are granted by a judge and require 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 a 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 Domestic Violence Act.