The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, today secured Government approval to publish a detailed implementation plan to address the recommendations of the Garda Inspectorate’s report on ‘Countering the Threat of Internal Corruption’, which was published in March 2021.
The purpose of this inspection by the Garda Inspectorate was to examine the effectiveness of An Garda Síochána at preventing, detecting and mitigating the threat of internal corruption.
The Inspectorate’s report contained 34 recommendations, three of which were directed at the Department of Justice, one at the Department of Transport and 30 at An Garda Síochána.
The report made recommendations around strengthening anti-corruption measures and improving safeguards, including in the areas of:
- Professional boundaries
- The abuse of power for sexual gain
- Conflicts of interest/business interests
- Substance testing
- Discontinued court cases
- Operation of the statutory exemption from fixed charge penalties in emergency situations.
The implementation plan, which contains actions to address each of the 34 recommendations contained in the report, has been jointly prepared by the Department of Justice and An Garda Síochána.
Speaking on the publication of the implementation plan, Minister McEntee said:
“The vast majority of Garda members serve the organisation and the State with integrity each and every day of their careers. The unique nature of policing means it is one which is open to the threat of corruption. An Garda Síochána is not alone in this and this report will help ensure that An Garda Síochána has the appropriate structures and measures in place to guard against that threat.
Any wrongdoing or corruption within policing damages the integrity and morale of officers and staff alike and undermines public confidence in police services.
The Inspectorate’s report and our associated implementation plan will help ensure the highest standards of integrity and ethical behaviour within An Garda Síochána. It is also imperative that we develop a greater shared understanding of the threat of corruption across the broader Criminal Justice sector, and I welcome the work by my Department in that regard.”
As outlined in the implementation plan, significant progress has already been made by the new Garda Anti-Corruption Unit on addressing a number of the recommendations, and clear timelines have been set out for those that are outstanding.
Completed actions to date include the publication by An Garda Síochána of an overarching Anti-Corruption Policy, the Professional Boundaries and Abuse of Power for Sexual Gain Policy, as well as the Substance Misuse (Controlled Drugs) Policy. While most of the recommendations are aimed at An Garda Síochána, the implementation of some recommendations also require the involvement of the Department of Justice, especially in relation to legislation.
Noting work already done by An Garda Síochána and the Department of Justice to counter corruption in An Garda Síochána, Minister McEntee continued:
“Significant work has been undertaken by An Garda Síochána to counter corruption in the organisation, and to develop a culture where it safe and encouraged to speak up if you are aware of corruption or wrongdoing.
Clear policies and procedures are in place for reporting and dealing with wrongdoing; professionalism and integrity is taught and promoted right from training in Templemore for new recruits through to each and every rank and grade in An Garda Síochána.
To support the Commissioner in this work, we have enacted legislation to enable testing of personnel for controlled drugs in An Garda Síochána and my officials are working on supporting legislation to bring this into effect.
My Department will continue to work closely with An Garda Síochána and the Policing Authority to ensure targets are being met and recommendations are implemented in accordance with this plan.”
Notes to the Editor:
The Garda Inspectorate’s report ‘Countering the Threat of Internal Corruption’ can be found at https://www.gsinsp.ie/countering-the-threat-of-internal-corruption/
The implementation plan published today can be found at https://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PB22000182
- The Garda Síochána Inspectorate report ‘Countering the Threat of Internal Corruption – A review of counter-corruption structures, strategies and processes in the Garda Síochána’ was published in March 2021.
- ‘Countering the Threat of Internal Corruption’ was the first self-initiated inspection conducted by the Garda Inspectorate and was selected as a topic for inspection following consultations with a number of key stakeholders including An Garda Síochána, the Policing Authority and the Department of Justice.
- The purpose of the inspection and report was to examine the effectiveness of An Garda Síochána at preventing, detecting and mitigating against the threat of internal corruption.
- The report assesses the structures, strategies and processes in AGS, benchmarking them against a range of commonly accepted counter-corruption functions considered necessary for modern police services to operate effectively.
- This detailed implementation plan outlines the steps necessary to deliver on each of the recommendations, including a summary timeline making clear which recommendations can be delivered in the short, medium and long term in a structured, prioritised and realistic work programme.
- The Plan fully accepts 32 of the 34 recommendations, with two being accepted in-part. The three recommendations directed at the Department have all been accepted in full and actions have been developed to deliver on these recommendations. These include:
- To develop a strategic understanding of the risk of internal corruption across the criminal justice sector
- To carry out a review of post-employment activities of the Garda workforce, and develop suitable rules and processes to reduce the risk of any conflicts of interest arising after they leave the organisation
- To implement the necessary statutory framework to ensure that all instances of conduct linked to sexual violence or abuse of power for sexual gain are referred for independent investigation.
- Recommendation 20 is directed at the Department of Transport in relation to the statutory provision regarding the emergency exemption from the Fixed Charge Penalty System. A review is being conducted of the current statutory framework in this area having regard to the findings outlined in the Inspectorate report and it is my understanding that this review should be completed by the end of the year.
- Ireland was recently the subject of a Fifth Round Evaluation by GRECO (the Council of Europe Group of States Against Corruption), which focused on ‘Preventing corruption and promoting integrity in central governments (top executive functions) and law enforcement agencies’. It is anticipated that GRECO’s evaluation report of Ireland will be published shortly. A number of the recommendation in GRECO’s report are expected to be fulfilled through the implementation plan for the Garda Inspectorate Corruption report.