The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission has called for legislative changes to improve the garda complaints system.

In a statement this afternoon, GSOC said it does not believe that complainants' issues are best addressed by the current system.

The commisson is calling for GSOC to be reconstituted as a body that is fully independent from the Department of Justice and Equality.

It believes that a body with its own financial resources would make the complaints and oversight system fairer, more efficient and more transparent.

GSOC said the current Garda Síochána Act 2005  "prescribes processes that are overly complicated and place too much focus on retribution and not enough on resolution".

The proposed changes are aimed at:

  • enhancing the independence of the Ombudsman Commission;
  • placing greater emphasis on early resolution of complaints to the benefit of complainants and gardaí alike and;
  • streamlining the more formal investigative processes.

GSOC says the current system directs minor complaints into a drawn-out disciplinary process with its focus on blame and sanction.

The Commission is proposing that GSOC be able to decide when attempts at local resolution of a complaint are appropriate. 

It further proposes that members of the public who make a complaint should have a say in whether local garda management or  GSOC deal with it.

Where a formal investigation of a complaint is necessary, GSOC proposes that it be responsible for all such investigations.

Under the current system, many complaints of a non-criminal nature are referred to the Garda Síochána for investigation.

GSOC has dealt with over to 23,000 complaints from the public, some 900 referrals from the Garda Síochána, and numerous other investigations undertaken at the request of the Minister for Justice and Equality.