‘Serious flaw’ in 999 system leaves elderly woman waiting 43 days for a garda to call
11th December 2022
An elderly woman in Finglas, Dublin, was left waiting for 43 days for a visit from gardaí after reporting her windows had been smashed, due to a “serious flaw” within the command-and-control system. The woman contacted gardaí on October 1 , it is understood.
The case is among up to 300 calls that were not promptly dealt with in the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) West over the past three months in the immediate aftermath of the 999 cancelled calls scandal.
When a member of the public calls 999, or their local station, to report a crime, it is inputted into the command-and-control system. The best placed available officer is then dispatched to investigate.
However, a “flaw” within the system means that when an officer is assigned to a callout, but is then diverted elsewhere — often because they are redirected to a more serious call — the case is not referred to the next available garda on duty.
The issue has emerged as a “particular problem” in Dublin West — which includes Blanchardstown, Finglas, and Clondalkin — as it is one of the county’s busiest garda districts.
It is understood the Garda Representative Association (GRA), the largest garda union in the country, has identified and discussed this issue internally and intends to raise it with garda management.
“The case of the elderly woman in Finglas is an example of how the system does not work properly. When a member of the public reports a crime it is processed through the command-and-control system and a garda is assigned to it,” a source said.
“There are numerous incidents of an officer making their way to the scene to respond to a reported crime, but they are then diverted to a more serious incident.
“The garda in question might be then going on annual leave, or be tied up in a court case, or there could be a multitude of other issues.
“But there is no mechanism for the garda to reassign the crime to another officer who is on active duty.
“Instead it remains the responsibility of the garda originally assigned to investigate. This clearly makes no sense,” the source said.
“And in reality, it is leading to victims of crime not getting the police service they deserve.”
A separate source said this was becoming a “particular problem” in urban areas compared to rural parts of the country.
“Unfortunately the general public in DMR West is suffering more than most of the rest of the country,” the source said.
“It should not be the case that there is a huge difference in the police response you will get if you live in Finglas, for example, compared to somewhere like rural Mayo. But unfortunately that is the reality at the moment.
“This problem is hot on the heels of the garda 999 cancelled calls controversy. On paper, every crime that is reported is assigned an investigating garda.
“However, in reality the garda cannot always make it because they are overloaded.
“Making this problem worse is that they cannot reassign the crime even if they know they are going on annual leave for a fortnight.”
Garda Headquarters were contacted for comment.
The revelation came in a week when an internal garda document, obtained by this newspaper, showed 100 gardaí have resigned this year from the force, as a “mass exodus” of officers continues to gather pace and is affecting frontline policing.
A source pointed out that this figure is “far higher” than previous years.
“Gardaí continue to walk away from the job in their droves,” the source explained.
“Of course this has a big impact on the force’s capabilities and the standard of policing we can deliver.”