Thu, 25 Mar, 2021 – 16:17 UP DATED BY FRED BASSETT.
The corruption threat posed by gardaí who abuse their power for sexual gain is “poorly grasped” in An Garda Síochána, a police watchdog has said.
The Garda Inspectorate said this problem – which was a “major emerging issue” in other police forces – had “profound” human rights implications for victims and the organisation.
It called on the Department of Justice to make cases of abuse of power for sexual gain by gardaí a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights and requiring an effective independent investigation.
Publishing a 170-page report on Garda anti-corruption structures, the inspectorate also said:
- It was “critical” that vetting procedures are improved to protect the integrity of An Garda Síochána and that checks expand considerably to include European criminal records, Revenue offences, credit checks, financial intelligence, social media, military records, etc;
- Use of illicit drugs was a “serious concern” among gardaí consulted by the inspectorate and the organisation should introduce drug testing;
- Periodic “integrity health checks” of the garda workforce should take place, if not annually then at least at critical career points;
- A “senior police leader” or anti-corruption supremo should be appointed to take overall charge for countering corruption;
- An all-powerful Anti Corruption Unit should be able to monitor live all garda information and communication technology and devices;
- The ACU should also have “sufficient resources” to gather intelligence and conduct investigations itself.
The report, Countering the Threat of Internal Corruption, also identified “significant gaps” in the supervision of scrapped prosecutions by gardaí in the district court.
It said there was a “high volume” of cases discontinued in court – including cases of serious threats to public safety, such as drunk driving.
It said that of 79 incidents it examined, the most common reasons were the garda member did not turn up in court to prosecute the case (13%) or because key evidence wasn’t available (13%).
“The risk of corrupt exploitation in the absence of strong supervision is clear and it constitutes a significant threat to the reputation of the Garda Síochána,” the report said.
Chief Inspector Mark Toland said: “It is clear that the Garda workforce is predominantly honest and performs its duties with integrity. However, due to the corrosive nature of corruption and the potential it has to severely damage public confidence in policing, there is no room for complacency”.
The inspection was led by former Deputy Chief Inspector Hugh Hume, who was appointed as one of the three commissioners heading GSOC last month.
The report said that despite documented cases of sexual impropriety in the organisation that “at no level” within the organisation were these cases identified as a “corruption threat”.
The report said: “The risk to the Garda Síochána was poorly grasped and cases were dealt with in isolation. This is an issue which has profound human rights implications for victims, the organisation and the criminal justice sector.”
It said that outside support organisations also cited anecdotal cases of sexual misconduct involving gardaí, with one organisation – the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) – saying that victims of sexual violence were overwhelmingly anxious not to criticise or complain about garda handling of cases.
The DRCC also told the inspectorate: “Anecdotally, we hear from very vulnerable victims, such as those living in prostitution that they are liable to be asked for sexual favours.
We also hear that those who might be inclined to complain about the investigation might be at risk of prosecution for making a false complaint in a way that strikes them as malicious and personal.”
Mr Toland said: “While abuse of power for sexual gain by police officers is recognised internationally as a current corruption threat in policing, there was little awareness of this risk in the Garda Síochána”.
Publishing the report, Justice Minister Helen McEntee said: “I am particularly focussed on addressing weaknesses identified by the Inspectorate in relation to abuse of power for sexual gain. This type of behaviour is abhorrent and any risk of it arising cannot be tolerated in our police service.
“It is vital that An Garda Síochána develops appropriate structures, policies and intelligence capabilities to prevent this type of behaviour.”
In a statement, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said a number of anti-corruption measures had already been taken:
- Appointment of a deputy commissioner as the senior police leader to counter corruption;
- Establishment of the ACU last November, with the appointment of a Chief Superintendent, two Detective Superintendents and 23 gardaí, to be augmented by a further four gardaí and nine garda staff shortly;
- Publication of a strategic threat and risk assessment and the development of policies on anti-corruption, substance misuse, professional boundaries and abuse of power for sexual gain – which could be published shortly.
“There is no room in An Garda Síochána for anyone who engages in corruption and whose standards fall below what the public and I expect from Garda personnel,” the Commissioner said.
Our integrity as an organisation is not negotiable.
“It is an unfortunate reality that experience has shown us that a small number of Garda personnel have abused their position of trust for their own gain.”
He pointed out that some of the recommendations required investment in ICT infrastructure and legislation.
He said the inspectorate’s report was “very useful and informative” and said the organisation would provide its views to the department.
This is all over Facebook Corruption Awareness Ireland Facebook, Shocking to wATCH.
Female Garda Loses The Plot. Forcing her way into someone’s #Home under the Health Act and Allegedly committing Assault, Theft, Criminal Damage, Deception, Trespass, using Foul Language in a agressive manner which could lead to a Breach Of The Peace. She also was Deceiving the Public into believing she is a member of a Police Force and no mention of being a Garda. This is #Disgraceful Behaviour from a member of An Garda Síochána, it’s #Unacceptable behaviour, especially when barking at people like a dog in someone’s Home. She should face criminal charged. Gardai need to have a Mandatory on the job #Psychological Evaluation to be done regulury, as job Sutability is under question as seen above. Why does this #Assesment not happen in ireland, but yet its a job requirement in the USA ? #PolicingAuthority