Almost 600 criminal investigations opened by Garda Ombudsman in 2020

Over 3,000 allegations were made against gardaí to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) last year
Almost 600 criminal investigations opened by Garda Ombudsman in 2020

Muireann Duffy

The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (Gsoc) received 3,089 allegations made against members of the force in 2020, according to the Commission's annual report published on Friday.

Last year, 1,955 complaints against gardaí were opened, while 1,724 complaints were closed. Nineteen protected disclosures were also made during the same period.

There were 572 criminal investigations launched by Gsoc in 2020, while 26 public interest investigations were also opened, which are undertaken without the submission of a complaint or direction from the Garda Commissioner.

The report notes that Gardaí made 43 referrals for Gsoc's consideration in instances where "the conduct of a member of the Garda Síochána may have resulted in the death of, or serious harm to a person".

Not all of these 43 referrals led to an investigation, according to the Commission, "as the contact with the Garda Síochána may turn out not to have been immediate to the incident in question".

"Where death is involved, Gsoc has regard not only to the incident concerned but also the needs of family members, and a number of Gsoc staff act as Family Liaison Officers to assist throughout the investigation," a statement from the Commission said.

The annual report highlights a number of case studies, illustrating the work carried out by Gsoc, with the investigation into the death of George Nkencho on December 30th, 2020, which is still ongoing, among those included.

Gsoc also highlighted the continuation of the Local Intervention (LI) initiative, which aims to resolve service-level complaints against gardaí, such as incivility, poor service, and lack of response to communications, at a local level, avoiding the formal complaints process.

The Commission said the initiative allows for less serious complaints to be dealt with in a "timely and mutually accepted manner", with a 10 per cent increase in the number of cases being referred to LI in 2020, and a 50 per cent increase in the number of LI complaints being closed or resolved.

The full report can be viewed on the Gsco website.

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