Gardai’s new ‘AC-12’ anti-corruption unit already investigating ‘bent coppers’
The Garda’s new anti-corruption unit is already investigating allegations of bent coppers in the force, it has emerged.
Speaking at the launch of the new crack team, the head of the unit told The Star it had already received complaints from at least one member of the force alleging an organised crime group had infiltrated the service.
Chief Supt Johanna O’Leary, commander of the recently-formed Garda Anti Corruption Unit, also confirmed it had received complaints about gardai taking illegal drugs.
She said: “There are some around drug taking. There are some where there might be infiltration from organised crime groups.”
The unit — already dubbed AC-12 by rank and file gardai after the BBC drama Line of Duty — has been set up to root out all types of corruption within the force, from officers working with crime gangs to gardai using their position to have sex with vulnerable victims.
The unit yesterday launched three new policies to keep gardai on the straight and narrow — one on overall anti-corruption, another on illegal drug use and a third on sexual gain.I
That is a response to fears that gardai may be entering into sexual relationships with vulnerable victims who come to the force for help.
The unit will take complaints from serving members of the force — and one of its main priorities will be to root out bad eggs, as well as prevent good gardai from going bad.
And the man who oversees the 26-strong unit yesterday used the launch to warn gardai that officers of all ranks would now be subjected to random drug testing — and anyone who fails could be sacked, or worse.
Assistant Commissioner Pat Clavin, who is in charge of Garda governance and accountability, said the random drug testing will begin in six months – and all ranks will be examined.
He said: “The purpose in launching the policy is to put people on notice there is no tolerance for controlled drugs within An Garda Siochana.
“It totally conflicts with the job we do. It exposes people to organised criminals because all drugs come in through organised crime.
“It is a total no-no as regards the Garda organisation. It would be something that is so serious that consideration of dismissal would be the appropriate sanction.
“If somebody is under investigation for something that is a criminal offence, we would send a file to the DPP and there would be a prosecution in appropriate circumstances.”
And Commissioner Clavin, the former head of the Criminal Assets Bureau, admitted that gardai mirrored Irish society in its problem with illegal drugs.
He said: “I am concerned about drug taking in Irish society, and the gardai and the Garda staff that we have come from Irish society. We know of instances where we have had some of our people unfortunately recreationally using drugs so I would be concerned.
“I am very concerned about the level of drug taking in Irish society in general and our people come from Irish society.”
Sources have previously told The Star that cocaine is an increasing problem within the force — especially amongst younger members.
Commissioner Clavin also said he believed most gardai supported the idea of random drug testing to weed out users in the force.
“We have experienced lots of ordinary decent guards saying it is high time there was drug testing in An Garda Siochana and, in addition, that there is no place in our organisation for people to take advantage of vulnerable victims and victimise a victim a second time,” he added.
“The great majority of people are very supportive and think these policies are timely.”
Chief Supt O’Leary also said she did not believe there was serious corruption within the force — but there were issues that need to be addressed.
“The professional standards of the organisation need to be upheld,” she said. “There is a minor corruption problem, there are minor issues.”
When asked what the issues were, she replied: “An issue with drugs; an issue with professional boundaries, the balance of power.
“We have to look at the abuse of power and the trust that is given to us in our positions as members of An Garda Siochana and then abuse of power for sexual gain as well.”
Commissioner Clavin also said there would be no tolerance for any member who abuses victims’ trust.