Sarah Everard murder prompts Harris bid to root out predator gardaí
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A specialist Garda team is to examine cases where officers have been accused of sexual or domestic abuse.© Provided by Extra.ie
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the examination was needed following the case of Sarah Everard in the UK, in which a police officer, Wayne Couzens, kidnapped, raped and murdered the 33-year-old.
The Garda’s Protective Services Bureau, a section that investigates domestic and sexual assaults, is conducting the examination.© Provided by Extra.ie Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the examination was needed following the case of Sarah Everard in the UK, in which a police officer, Wayne Couzens, kidnapped, raped and murdered the 33-year-old. Pic: Family Handout/PA Wire
Mr Harris said the team has several current cases it would like to examine and would then decide on whether to scrutinise past cases.
He was speaking to reporters in Naas, Co. Kildare, on Wednesday at the annual conference of the Association of Garda Superintendents.
Asking about high-profile investigations into police committing sexual assaults, he said: ‘Any sexual assault or serious assault on a woman is obviously a concern, but the case I presume you are referring to, Sarah Everard, in that case we have watched carefully the London Met response and UK policing.© Provided by Extra.ie said the team has several current cases it would like to examine and would then decide on whether to scrutinise past cases. Pic: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin
‘There are some lessons from their initial response we wish to build upon, so we ourselves want to look at any investigations that are ongoing or that we have in terms of members of An Garda Síochána involved in allegations of either sexual abuse or domestic assault to make sure those are being properly conducted and advanced in terms of reporting to the Director of Public Prosecutions.’
He said gardaí had to show that they were capable of protecting women and have their ‘confidence’.
Commissioner Harris added the vast majority of gardaí are hardworking and honest. However, he said there are also a small group of gardaí who are not living up to high standards and that some are involved in crimes.© Provided by Extra.ie British police officer Wayne Couzens kidnapped, raped and murdered Sarah Everard. Pic: Metropolitan Police/PA Wire
‘It is an unpleasant reality but we need to deal with it,’ he said.
‘When we find wrongdoing we deal with it or we support Gsoc [the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission] in their investigations.’ He added: ‘I have responsibility for the organisation. Serious misconduct, criminality won’t be tolerated.’© Provided by Extra.ie Drew Harris was speaking to reporters in Naas, Co. Kildare, on Wednesday at the annual conference of the Association of Garda Superintendents. Pic: Colin Keegan/Collins Dublin
In July it emerged the Director of Public Prosecutions was considering whether a garda should face criminal charges after being arrested on suspicion of sexually assaulting a woman in a Garda station. The officer has been suspended since February, when he was arrested.
Separately, the UK’s Independent Office for Police Conduct is currently investigating allegations that police failed to investigate indecent exposure claims against Couzens six years ago.