Thu, 23 Sep, 2021 – 20:45 up dated, by Fred Bassett
An investigation is under way after 53 emergency calls were cancelled without the gardaí who took them going through the proper procedure, the Garda Commissioner has said.
Commissioner Drew Harris confirmed to the Policing Authority that Garda members continued to cancel 999 calls despite the ongoing scrutiny of the 200,000 calls which were cancelled between January 2019 and October 2020.
The calls he referred to at Thursday’s meeting of the authority had been cancelled in November of last year.
Commissioner Harris said the majority of calls were “alarm calls”, that all of them would have been cancelled, had they been forwarded on to a supervisor.
He went on to say it appeared individual dispatchers “took it upon themselves” to cancel these calls.
“This is now subject of an inquiry and that will include a disciplinary investigation,” Commissioner Harris said.
The commissioner said this was “very disappointing”, particularly given the huge focus and public commentary, as well as focus on the issue internally within An Garda Síochána.
He said, in this case, there did not appear to be a “service delivery failure” but it was the risk when people “move outside the process” for handling these calls.
‘It is being taken very seriously’
“It is being looked at. It is being taken very seriously,” said Commissioner Harris, adding that “all of us were shocked” this still occurred, given the time and effort put in place to tackle the issue.
He described it as very disappointing but said in terms of the impact, it was very different to the original matters that were discovered.
Policing Authority chairman Bob Collins described it as a “strikingly, almost bizarre development,” particularly given the fact the calls would have been cancelled anyway if the procedures had been followed.
Mr Collins went on to say this could have easily had an impact on the quality of service delivered to the public.
“It didn’t, mercifully, in this case. But 53 cancellations is not a small amount. It is very difficult to get one’s head around it,” he added.
Currently, there is an ongoing review into the 200,000 calls, 3000 of which were understood to be related to domestic violence, which were previously cancelled.
The Policing Authority was told the majority of these victims had been contacted by gardaí, with some having moved or left the jurisdiction.
The commissioner also said gardaí had not found a pattern, from the data they had, which would suggest cancelled calls were prejudicial “towards one sector of the community or another”.At least 400 crimes not investigated due to 999 call cancellation