Some crime victims won’t get justice because of cancelled 999 calls, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris admits
October 28 2021 06:50 PM
The Garda Commissioner has said that some of the 114 crimes that were missed because of cancelled 999 calls will have no criminal justice outcome because they are statute barred.
Gardaí have been carrying out a review of more than 200,000 emergency calls which were cancelled in a 22-month period between 2019 and 2020.
The Policing Authority was this afternoon informed that so far 2,689 priority one calls were confirmed as being invalidly cancelled with 114 of these described as crime incidents.
Garda chief Drew Harris said that there was a failure to follow through on these incidents, some of which were domestic violence related, either through ongoing investigations or call backs to victims.
He also said they are taking as “very serious” the 114 offences that were missed at the time and have now subsequently been recorded on the Pulse system.
Mr Harris added that some of these were statute barred and that there would be no criminal justice outcome, while others can still be investigated.
Asked by Authority chair Bob Collins if there was inadequate supervision which led to the cancelled calls, Drew Harris said he finds “difficulty in accepting that conclusion”.
He said that a large amount of effort goes into supervising and managing 999 calls and the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system, and that gardaí offer a good service in terms of emergency response to calls.
Deputy Garda Commissioner Anne Marie McMahon told the meeting that every call was answered and a service was provided but that the issue arose when incidents were prematurely or inappropriately closed.
The senior garda added that, based on victim engagement and subsequent call backs arising from the review, they are satisfied that no harm was caused by the lack of initial engagement.
Mr Collins said what was being stated was that there is no case in which a service wasn’t provided, and that he was “perplexed in the extreme” about this.
He later added: “Part of me wonders if there is any point in continuing this conversation until such a time as we get Mr Penman’s review”.
Former chief inspector of the Scottish police, Derek Penman, is currently carrying out an independent review on behalf of the Policing Authority into the cancellation of calls which has been delayed.
The meeting, held in public, also heard that 19,000 calls were logged as ‘intel’ with 300 of these requiring examination.
The Garda’s Chief Information Officer, Andrew O’Sullivan, said they do not expect to find a high level of issues or incorrect cancellations among these.
The meeting also discussed the new Anti-Corruption Unit setup within the organisation.
Mr Harris said that it was difficult to assess the scale of the problem due to the size of the organisation.
He said that “rogue members” within the force are in plain sight and that nobody is particularly surprised when an investigation is opened into them.