Proceedings to quash wrongful convictions of Laois motorists to begin

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Email:

news@leinsterexpress.ie

A breakdown of penalty point offences in Ireland

The first cases quash wrongfully convictions of Laois motorists who suffered as a result of the fixed charge penalty notice Garda controversy look set to come before the circuit court in Portlaoise next month.

Fixed charge notices cover more than 60 road traffic offences which attract penalty points. Thousands of people were wrongfully convicted even though they had paid paid their fines.

An Garda Síochána provided the update in its response to the findings of the Crowe Horwath report on behalf of the Policing Authority into issues relating to the Fixed Charge Penalty Notice (FCPN) system and recording of breath-tests very seriously.

The Gardaí said that just as Assistant Commissioner O’Sullivan’s report into these matters did, the Crowe Horwath report has also "found unacceptable failures in our systems, processes, internal oversight, supervision, governance, management and culture". It says these were "collective failures and we must now all work together from top down to bottom up to resolve them".

"Garda Síochána accepts the damage this has done to public confidence. We fully recognise the importance of public support and confidence in the delivery of an effective police service. It has always been the cornerstone of An Garda Síochána and vital to the delivery of a police service that protects and supports communities," said the satement from Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin.

He said the force has a  strong focus now is on changing systems, practices, behaviours and culture. 

The Gardaí we are examining all fixed charge penalty notices issued since 2006. They have have completed 99% of that work. and written to 11,924 persons whose cases must be appealed. 

"In July 2017, we brought 67 test appeal cases before the Dublin Circuit Court to be heard by the President of the Circuit Court. All of the cases were successfully appealed and the Court Services are in the process of updating the records of those concerned and returning fines paid. A further 3,800 are scheduled to be heard in Circuit Courts in December 2017," said the statment.

On the issue of drink driving MAT/MIT checkpoints, the gardaí say number of measures have been taken to address the deficiencies highlighted. A change to PULSE in August 2017 means that only essential data is now collected, the Medical Bureau of Road Safety has commenced a tender process for new Drager devices which will improve recording, and new and improved training methods are being developed. We have also adopted a new approach to roads policing including the introduction of a Roads Policing Bureau, which will assist in this area by strengthening governance.

In addition, checkpoint incidents identified in Assistant Commissioner O’Sullivan’s report that were associated with implausible breath-test data have been referred to each of the Regional Assistant Commissioners for further examination. This process is being overseen by the Assistant Commissioner, Roads Policing.


 
Statement from Acting Garda Commissioner Dónall Ó Cualáin Issue Date: 01/11/2017
An Garda Síochána takes the findings of the Crowe Horwath report on behalf of the Policing Authority into issues relating to the FCPN system and recording of breath-tests very seriously.

Just as Assistant Commissioner O’Sullivan’s report into these matters did, the Crowe Horwath report has also found unacceptable failures in our systems, processes, internal oversight, supervision, governance, management and culture. These were collective failures and we must now all work together from top down to bottom up to resolve them.

An Garda Síochána accepts the damage this has done to public confidence. We fully recognise the importance of public support and confidence in the delivery of an effective police service. It has always been the cornerstone of An Garda Síochána and vital to the delivery of a police service that protects and supports communities.

That is why we are absolutely determined to ensure that such failings cannot happen again. Our strong focus now is on changing our systems, practices, behaviours and culture. This process has already started and will continue at pace until all matters are resolved. 

As recently outlined to the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, in relation to the FCPN system and people being incorrectly penalised, we are examining all fixed charge penalty notices issued since 2006. We have completed 99% of that work. We have written to 11,924 persons who we identified as people whose cases must be appealed.

An Garda Síochána is working with the Courts Service to ensure all wrongful convictions are appealed.

In July 2017, we brought 67 test appeal cases before the Dublin Circuit Court to be heard by the President of the Circuit Court. All of the cases were successfully appealed and the Court Services are in the process of updating the records of those concerned and returning fines paid. A further 3,800 are scheduled to be heard in Circuit Courts in December 2017.

All the recommendations in Assistant Commissioner O’Sullivan’s report in relation to the FCPS are being implemented either internally or through an existing interdepartmental working group.
On the issue of MAT/MIT checkpoints, a number of measures have been taken to address the deficiencies highlighted. A change to PULSE in August 2017 means that only essential data is now collected, the Medical Bureau of Road Safety has commenced a tender process for new Drager devices which will improve recording, and new and improved training methods are being developed. We have also adopted a new approach to roads policing including the introduction of a Roads Policing Bureau, which will assist in this area by strengthening governance.

In addition, checkpoint incidents identified in Assistant Commissioner O’Sullivan’s report that were associated with implausible breath-test data have been referred to each of the Regional Assistant Commissioners for further examination. This process is being overseen by the Assistant Commissioner, Roads Policing.

We have now commenced a detailed review of the Crowe Horwath report to determine what further measures need to be taken.

An Garda Síochána is fully committed to reform and as part of this to cultural change. Recent initiatives taken in this area include the start of the roll-out of the Code of Ethics, a major survey of all personnel to examine how they believe the culture of the organisation can be changed, and a series of discussions facilitated by the Kennedy Institute of Maynooth University between senior management on how we can improve the service we provide to the public.

As requested, we will also outline to the Policing Authority what is being done under our major reform programme in areas such as performance management, training, systems, governance, supervision, data quality, resourcing and culture to ensure these appalling failures cannot re-occur.