New Garda allegations on homicide data are staggering

Background: Claims from two whistleblowers will rock the Government and the force

Garda Deputy Commissioner John Twomey. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Garda Deputy Commissioner John Twomey. File photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The first indication that all was not right with the Garda’s homicide data came last April.

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said 41 cases had been reviewed, with shortcomings in the classification, or recording, of an unspecified number having been unearthed.

Twomey’s remarks, at a Garda Representative Association conference, were brief.

But given the subject matter, and coming as they did the day before then Garda commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan was due to appear at the Policing Authority, they took on an added significance.

The controversy has snowballed since then, albeit modestly and slowly. But allegations by two new Garda whistleblowers in a protected disclosure have upped the ante.

The allegation that some murders and other homicides were both misclassified and never investigated properly is a staggering claim that will rock Government and the Garda.

Crime statistics

Some after it emerged last April that there was a problem with the classification of some homicides, the Central Statistics Office said it was stopping the publication of any further crime statistics until the homicide figures were corrected.

And the Policing Authority repeatedly looked for more information on misclassified homicides from the Garda.

By last June the controversy had widened. This time we were told, by the Garda, that the misclassification of homicides was not limited to domestic killings.

Instead, 89 road deaths between 2003 and 2017 that should have been classified as homicides were recorded as some other, less serious, offence. All of them were cases of dangerous driving causing death.

The Policing Authority continued to seek reassurance from the Garda that all of the homicides classified as less serious crimes were still investigated as homicides.

The authority wanted assurance that the problem was simply one of computer records being incorrect rather than some homicides never having been properly investigated.

The Garda has insisted that notwithstanding the classification errors, all of the homicides were investigated as they should have been.

But now two Garda whistleblowers have prepared a protected disclosure and they have disputed that claim.

They say homicides, including murders, were classified in official records and on the Garda’s Pulse as less serious offences. And, crucially, they also alleged that some of those cases were never investigated as homicides.

They are effectively claiming that murders and other unlawful killings slipped through the cracks, never recorded properly and never investigated properly.