Cancelled 999 calls report set for release, as Commissioner faces grilling before Policing Authority
14th November 2021
A long-awaited independent report into the controversy surrounding gardaí cancelling more than 200,000 emergency 999 calls is due to be submitted ahead of the “sustained questioning” of Commissioner Drew Harris by the Policing Authority at the end of the month.
In July, the Policing Authority appointed Derek Penman to independently review An Garda Síochána over the cancelled calls issue.
Mr Penman is a former assistant chief constable of Police Scotland.
He began his work at the beginning of August and his analysis of the cancellation of 999 calls was due to be submitted to the Policing Authority by August 30.
However, this deadline was extended and he is now due to submit his interim report imminently.
“Mr Penman’s work is ongoing and he has been keeping the Authority briefed on progress. An interim report is expected to be submitted to the Authority in advance of the next meeting in public with the Garda Commissioner, which will take place on November 30, 2021,” a spokeswoman for the Policing Authority said.
The Sunday Independent recently revealed a garda whistleblower is providing key information to investigators examining the cancelled 999 call controversy.
A senior serving garda has provided “integral intelligence” in relation to the matter, which is currently under investigation by the force and the Policing Authority.
An internal Garda review had previously established more than 200,000 emergency callouts were not properly responded to over a 22-month period between 2019 and 2020.
It then emerged in mid-October that an additional 19,000 emergency calls were potentially cancelled by gardaí — without going through proper procedures, and in spite of the public controversy surrounding the issue.
Acting Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys expressed her concern for the first time last month, after it emerged gardaí were continuing to cancel 999 calls.
Garda Commissioner Drew Harris confirmed the 19,000 cancelled calls were now being examined and said two incidents of particular concern had been identified so far.
However, Mr Harris said it was too early to say if procedures were being frustrated or circumvented, or if the issue involved human error.
Senior sources say the garda whistleblower at the centre of the case has provided details of how gardaí used a WhatsApp group to discuss how to circumvent dealing with 999 calls. This is now a major focus of investigations.
This intelligence is “very credible”, it is understood.
“This is a problem that is not going away. Serious issues have been identified and are now being addressed,” said a source.
On November 30, Mr Harris will again face sustained questioning over the controversy before the Policing Authority, in a public meeting which is expected to be live-streamed.