GSOC publishes annual report


The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) received almost 5,000 allegations of misconduct against gardaí last year, including 540 complaints in which people alleged they were assaulted by members of the force.

The single most common complaint against gardaí was that of abuse of authority, which accounted for 34 per cent of all complaints. This was followed by neglect of duty, accounting for 29 per cent of complaints, and discourtesy, 13 per cent of all complaints.

The figures are contained in the commission's annual report for 2010 which was published in Dublin this afternoon.

It noted that the number of complaints received last year was broadly in line with 2009.

In total, 2,258 complaints - containing 4,031 specific allegations - were received of which 722 were deemed inadmissible for a variety reasons including being outside the six-month time limit or being deemed to be vexatious.

A total of 2,344 complaints were disposed of last year.

Some of these were received last year and disposed of by year end. Others were received at different times since the Garda Ombudsman’s inception four years ago but were concluded last year.

Of the 2,344 complaints concluded last year, 1,098 were not deemed to be very serious and were referred by the Garda Ombudsman to the Garda authorities for internal investigation, of which 11 resulted in disciplinary action.

In 945 of the cases sent to the Garda to be investigated internally, gardaí were cleared of wrongdoing or it was decided no further investigation was either necessary or reasonably practicable.

In another 137 cases concluded last year, a process of informal resolution between the complainant and garda in question was decided upon.

Of these cases, it was decided that 99 did not warrant further investigation or further investigation was not practicable. In 28 of the cases, the matter was resolved and in 10 cases the complaint was withdrawn.

In another 226 of the cases concluded last year, the Ombudsman Commission decided these should be investigated internally by the Garda, but with close supervision by the commission.

In the majority of these, some 110 cases, the gardaí against whom the allegations were made were cleared of wrongdoing and in another 79 cases further investigations were deemed to be either unnecessary or not reasonably practicable.

In 867 of the cases disposed of last year the Ombudsman Commission opened its own full investigations to probe allegations of criminal wrongdoing on the part of gardaí.

These investigations are the most serious conducted by the Ombudsman Commission, during which they can arrest gardaí, seal off potential crime scenes and execute search warrants on the gardaí they are investigating.

In 396 of these cases, further investigation was deemed unnecessary or not “reasonably practicable”. In a further 289 cases the gardaí were cleared of wrongdoing and in another 128 cases the complainant decided not to cooperate.

In the 13 cases sent to the DPP recommending criminal charges, no prosecution was directed in 10 cases while prosecutions were directed in the remaining three cases.

The Ombudsman Commission said there was an even spread of complaints coming from all sectors of society, and not just from poorer areas where people traditionally had a more “fractious” relationship with the Garda.

Some 79 per cent of complainants had completed secondary level education and one in three of all complainants had gone to third level. Some 55 per cent of complaints were either employed, students or retired. The unemployed accounted for 27 per cent of all complaints.

The commission said that after operating for almost four years, it had not detected any trends indicating racism in the Garda. Last year 85 per cent of all complaints received were from Irish people.

Those in the 18 to 40 age grouping accounted for 62 per cent of all complaints made.