Over 700 fixed charge notices for penalty points cancelled by a single Garda in a four-year period 2 years ago

Over 700 fixed charge notices for penalty points cancelled by a single Garda in a four-year period

One of a number of damning revelations in a report by the Garda Síochana Ombudsman Commission (GSOC).

One member of An Garda Síochána was responsible for the cancellation of over 700 fixed charge notices for penalty points in a four-year period from 2009 to 2012 (inclusive).

The Garda in question cancelled 744 fixed charge notices (FCNs) across 17 counties over four years, the most glaring example in the report of cancellations carried out by superintendents and inspectors for FCNs outside their geographical area.

That was one of a number of revelations to emerge from the Investigation of Fixed Charge Notice Cancellations 2009 to 2014 report, which was published by GSOC on Friday, copies of which have been sent to the Minister for Justice and Equality and the Acting Garda Commissioner.

It was also revealed that a total of 442 Gardaí were authorised to cancel FCNs in the four-year period and that the vast majority (72%) of all cancelled FCNs were simply recorded as ‘cancelled’, giving insufficient rationale for cancellation to allow GSOC ascertain whether or not they were cancelled in line with proper procedure.

The investigation, which commenced at the request of the then Minister for Justice and Equality in January 2014 and a subsequent request by his successor in September 2014, made a number of findings of widespread exploitation of failings in the system used by An Garda Siochána for processing FCNs in the period examined.

GSOC met with Sergeant Maurice McCabe five times during the investigation and their findings confirm the information provided by him that improper cancellations were carried out. This phase of the investigation focused on the workings of the overall system rather than on every individual allegation made by Sergeant McCabe.

In total, GSOC received data relating to the issuing of 1.6 million Fixed Charge Notices (FCNs) and 74,373 cancellations of FCNs in the four years from 2009 to 2012 (inclusive).

The Ombudsman Commission has decided not to proceed to another phase of an investigation, however, due to the likely high cost of a more expansive and detailed investigation and the extensive reform of the Fixed Charge Penalty System in recent years.

In writing to the Acting Garda Commissioner, GSOC indicated to him that “while we are ending this investigation, our interest in road safety and public confidence in Garda behaviour in this area means we will keep complaints of infringements of this nature to the forefront with the hope is that such complaints will become infrequent as better internal oversight deals with the legacy of poor practices in the past”.

You can read the GSOC report in full here.