Thu, 09 Jun, 2022 – 03:00
Garda HQ is calling for legal powers to run undercover investigations to test gardaí for corruption.
The organisation wants the Garda Anti-Corruption Unit (ACU) to have stronger powers — but needs clear laws to authorise it.
It said so-called integrity testing would enable the ACU to launch “simulated corruption opportunities” that would be designed “to provoke a response” from a targeted garda to see if they would commit a criminal or even disciplinary offence.
Garda bosses said integrity testing can be “random” and not just based on intelligence.
The request is contained in a submission by An Garda Síochána to the Oireachtas justice committee, which published its summary report last week on the General Scheme of the Policing Security and Community Safety Bill.
The final 554-page report, incorporating various submissions, has been sent to Justice Minister Helen McEntee to inform the drafting of the full bill.
Elsewhere in the submissions:
- Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said the organisation was “resolute” in its opposition to the sharing of intelligence by the proposed independent examiner of security legislation to oversight bodies, such as the Policing Authority or GSOC, unless there is permission by the original provider of the intelligence;
- Garda HQ called for traffic enforcement powers for minor road offences to be extended to traffic wardens employed by An Garda Síochána;
- The Association of Garda Chief Superintendents warned of legal action if provisions in the bill — including “unregulated, unsupervised, and unquestionable” powers for GSOC — are not changed;
- The Association of Garda Superintendents want the bill to preclude a member of the Policing Authority to publish or post online “any material or commentary relevant to their role and to policing”, saying members must not air personal views which “display bias or feed into public opinion”;
On corruption, the Garda HQ submission called for legislative amendments to support the work of the ACU.
The first concerned integrity testing, which it explained as: “The creation of stimulated corruption opportunities designed to provoke a response from a targeted police member to ascertain whether that member is involved in the commission of criminal or disciplinary offences.”
It said: “It is anticipated the Garda Anti-Corruption Unit will undertake this business activity in course and there is a requirement that same is underpinned by legislative provision. Integrity testing may be random and / or intelligence led.”
It cited legislation in New South Wales, Australia, which includes bribery and corrupt behaviour, procuring false testimony from witnesses, conspiring to commit an offence, consorting with convicted offenders, falsely accusing a person of a crime, and perverting the course of justice.
Garda HQ said the ACU was also developing plans for “in-career” vetting of serving garda members and garda staff (civilians):
It is anticipated that applicants for vulnerable safety and security-critical roles will attract a higher level of in-career vetting.
It called for laws for garda personnel to “furnish periodic financial and integrity statements” to the Justice Minister and the Commissioner. Garda HQ also wants the bill to define what constitutes a “business interest/secondary occupation” for garda personnel.
Both the commissioner and the submission state their “resolute” position on the sharing of intelligence without the permission of the original provider of the intelligence.
It had this concern in scenarios outlined in the bill where oversight bodies can appeal to the independent examiner a garda refusal to access material or a building on security grounds.
Garda HQ said that where intelligence came from a foreign security service and it was shared by the examiner, it would risk An Garda Síochána being excluded from intelligence sharing networks and potentially have “serious and damaging consequences” for Ireland.