Scale of the Garda’s Falsification of Traffic Convictions ‘Staggering’
Senior Gardai police officers have confirmed this week that accusations made by a whistle-blower and the leader of the Irish Labour Party concerning the falsification of drink driving offences are true. The Gardai has been forced to admit that just under a million recorded drink driving tests did not actually take place. From 2011 to 2016 the Medical Bureau of Road Safety show 1,058,157 test were administered to drink drivers. However, Garda Síochána records taken over the same period stated that 1,995,369 test were administered. A police spokesman stated that it is likely that 937,000 non-existent tests were simply made up by officers.
Further investigations have revealed that in addition to the drink driving convictions a separate error has caused the wrongful issuing of over 15,000 traffic convictions. Of this 14,700 drivers have been prosecuted without the issuing of a fixed-charge notice which required them to attend court. Due to the circumstances, all of these offences have now been deemed unsafe and the Garda themselves are now required to appeal all convictions, with the Irish state covering costs. Accusations have been made concerning the reasons behind the falsification of information but little solid reasoning has been provided by the Garda other than issues with their ‘Pulse’ computer system which logs offences. The impact and fallout of these revelations will be profound, not only for the public’s faith in police reporting of offences but also financially in the impact on fines and insurance costs.
The Tánaiste Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald has described the scandal as “appalling and staggering” whilst the leader of the Irish Labour Party argued that the situation was “beyond belief.” On Tuesday the Irish government announced it has launched two formal investigations, one looking into the conduct of the force and the second to probe the causes of the 15,000 wrongful motoring convictions. But with revelations released on Thursday from the Garda’s own chief advising that the falsifying of data is “not confined to traffic” the seriousness of this situation is set to have a huge impact on Irish policing.