Garda anti-corruption unit receives complaint related to infiltration from organised crime group
June 01 2021 01:19 PM
The Garda’s Anti-Corruption Unit have received a complaint relating to infiltration from an organised crime group.
The new unit was launched last year and will focus on internal issues within the force.
Gardaí say that, while corruption within the organisation is not widespread, there are a “minor” issues identified as well as emerging risks.
Chief Supt Jo O’Leary, head of the GACU, said that they have been operating for only a short period of time but have already received “a small number” of complaints.
“There are some around drug taking, there are some obviously where there might be infiltration from organised crime groups, there’s other areas as well that we’re looking at in this moment in time.”
The senior officer added a complaint has been made “around that” but said she could not comment further at this time.
The Garda’s ‘AC-12’ will have 26 members, including garda management, and will focus on concerns of internal corruption.
Three emerging threats identified were misuse of drugs, professional boundaries, and the abuse of power for sexual gain.
Policies have been created in relation to these and are available to the public.
Drug testing will be introduced no sooner than in six months time and will be carried out on new recruits and prospective members.
Assistant Garda Commissioner Pat Clavin said that random drug tests will also be carried out and that all garda personnel are subject to this.
He described as “serious” where a serving garda is proven to have taken drugs and that this could be grounds for dismissal.
“We know of instances where we’ve had some our people have been recreationally using drugs, so I would be concerned about the level of drug taking in Irish society in general, and as I say our people come from Irish society.”
Gardaí under internal investigation can also face prosecution where criminal offences are identified and files submitted to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Assistant Commissioner Clavin said that any drug testing would be undertaken in the workplace but that, like with members of the public, search warrants will be obtained if there is information that a member of An Garda Síochana has drugs in their home.
“We have experienced lots of ordinary decent guards who’ve said its high time there’s drug testing in An Garda Síochána and in addition that there’s no place in our organisation for people who take advantage of vulnerable victims, and in the sense re-victimise a victim a second time,” he said.
A confidential hotline is also being set up for gardaí to report ethical, criminal or corruption concerns within the organisation.
This reporting system will be established in the coming weeks involving a third party.
Chief Supt O’Leary said the aim of the three policies being launched was to maintain public confidence and to show that it will not tolerate corruption.
The GACU was established in November 2020 under the Government’s A Policing Service For Our Future plan and has begun its work in recent weeks.
Among the 26 staff as Chief Supt O’Leary who is in command of two Detective Superintendents.
The unit is made up of different sections including integrity building and investigative, while career vetting and substance misuse sections are in the process of being developed.
Chief Supt O’Leary said while they acknowledged that a minority of gardaí don’t “reach the standards” set out, they weren’t saying there is widespread corruption.
She said gardaí also have to make an “ethical decision” of whether they are correct to receive items like a box of chocolates or a cup of tea to ensure they aren’t compromised.