An investigation is underway after 53 emergency calls were canceled without the gardaí who handled them following the proper procedure, the Garda commissioner said.
Commissioner Drew Harris confirmed to law enforcement officials that Garda members continued to cancel 999 calls despite scrutiny of the 200,000 calls that were canceled between January 2019 and October 2020.
The calls he referred to at Thursday’s meeting of the authority had been called off in November of last year.
Commissioner Harris said the majority of the calls were “alarm calls”, all of which would have been canceled if they had been referred to a supervisor.
He went on to say that it looked like the individual dispatchers “had taken it upon themselves” to cancel those calls.
“This is now under investigation and will include a disciplinary investigation,” said Commissioner Harris.
The commissioner said it was “very disappointing”, especially given the public attention and comments, as well as the focus on the issue internally within An Garda Síochána.
He said that in this case there did not appear to be a “service delivery failure” but that it was the risk when people “go out of the process” to deal with these calls.
“It is under study. It is taken very seriously, ”said Commissioner Harris, adding that“ we were all shocked ”that this was still happening, given the time and effort put in to tackle the problem.
He described it as very disappointing but said in terms of impact, it was very different from the original elements that were discovered.
Police Authority Chairman Bob Collins described it as a “startling and almost bizarre development”, especially since the appeals would have been quashed anyway if the procedures had been followed.
Mr Collins went on to say that this could easily have had an impact on the quality of service to the public.
Fortunately, this is not the case in this case. But 53 cancellations is not a small amount. It’s very difficult to get an idea, ”he added.
Currently, there is an ongoing review of the 200,000 appeals, 3,000 of which are believed to have been related to domestic violence, which were previously canceled.
The police authority was informed that the majority of these victims had been contacted by gardaí, some having moved or left the jurisdiction.
The commissioner also said that gardaí had not found a pattern, from the data at its disposal, which would suggest that the canceled calls were detrimental “to one sector or another of the community”.