'Every cancelled 999 call must be investigated': Garda Representative Association

The vice president of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has questioned why there was a six-month delay in the reporting to the Policing Authority about the cancellation of 999 calls
'Every cancelled 999 call must be investigated': Garda Representative Association

Vivienne Clarke

The vice president of the Garda Representative Association (GRA) has questioned why there was a six-month delay in the reporting to the Policing Authority about the cancellation of 999 calls.

Brendan O’Connor told RTÉ radio’s Today with Claire Byrne show that he did not understand “the narrative” or suggestion that victims or vulnerable people had dialled 999 and that gardaí did not respond.

“I don’t understand how that situation could arise. We’re an emergency service, generally we would drop everything and respond.”

Mr O’Connor pointed out that every call was recorded, and he wanted the review to “delve into the detail” into each and every call to see what had happened. “What sort of calls were cancelled, why were they cancelled?”

It would be gross negligence for a member of An Garda Siochana not to assist a member of the public seeking assistance. This was a dangerous place to “take the high moral ground”.

Our members are not reckless.

There was no excuse or reason why gardai would cancel a call. He wanted to see more detail, so there could be consequences for actions taken and for decision-making.

There was a “huge deficit” with regard to training for gardaí dealing with the CAD (computer aided despatch) system, he said.

Former assistant garda commissioner, Pat Leahy said there was a big issue with trust and confidence and that people expected an immediate response to a call for help. There had to be a clear focus on openness and transparency.

An independent body would have to be called in to verify the findings of the review, he said, as the public trust issue needed to be addressed. In a case where the police were investigating the police there had to be complete transparency. “Warts and all have to come out.”

Transparency

The Policing Authority could not be “blindsided” and had to have all the information, he said. If there was no transparency there would be no public trust.

While there could be issues with technology and training, ultimately “this will come down to humans” he said.

Brendan O’Connor said there was “a brick wall” within the force when it came to “every aspect” of training and that the GRA had been calling for a long time for people to be properly trained as that was “at the root of every problem”.

Mr Leahy acknowledged that the GRA had been raising the issue of training for some time. A very wide and “granular approach” had to be taken to the investigation. Each individual incident would have to be investigated, he said.

Acting Minister for Justice Heather Humphreys has said it would not be possible to make any definitive conclusions on the controversy about cancelled 999 calls until a full review had been completed.

This should not have happened.

Speaking on RTÉ radio’s Morning Ireland, the Minister said that the issue should never have happened, 999 calls should always be answered. “This should not have happened.”

A review of the processes was in place to ensure that this never happened again, she added.

Ms Humphreys said that the Garda Commissioner had acknowledged that individuals had not adhered to the correct policies and procedures. The necessary measures were now in place “to significantly reduce the number of cancellations”.

The Minister said she was confident that the appropriate steps would be taken to ensure that this never happened again, that the public would be treated in the correct way. It had taken great courage for many of the people to make the 999 calls and people should have confidence in the service.

If the Policing Authority had concerns about some aspects of the service and how calls were responded to, then their review would address that, she said. “This is an ongoing process.”

If changes needed to be made, then they would be made, she said.

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