The Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) forwarded 27 files to the Director of Public Prosecutions in 2022, arising from investigations into allegations made against gardaí of sexual violence, assault, breaches of the Road Traffic Acts and the provision of false information.

Prosecutions were directed in six of those cases, no prosecution was directed in a further 14 and seven were still awaiting a decision at the end of 2022.

According to GSOC's annual report for 2022, it received a total of 1,826 complaints of alleged garda misconduct last year, a decrease of 11% on 2021.

In that year, GSOC also opened 41 investigations on referral by An Garda Síochána under Section 102 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, following incidents involving death or serious harm. This is a 31% decrease on the year before.

Despite this, the annual reports stated that "the volume of allegations and their complexity...remained high" with, for example, the 1,826 complaints containing 3,207 separate allegations.

GSOC closed 11% more cases in 2022 compared with 2021, but it took investigators longer to do so.

In 2022 it closed 2,301 cases containing 4,484 allegations against gardaí.

Independent evidence

However, the median time it took investigators to close investigations increased by between 48 and 55 days on the previous year, depending on the type of investigation involved.

In 2022, 1,019 allegations of the 4,484 made were determined to be inadmissible and 3,465 were investigated.

Of those 2,464 were discontinued where further investigation was deemed not necessary or reasonably practicable, and it was explained in the report that the most common reason for this was that there was no independent evidence to prove an allegation.

In the case of 426 allegations, no breach of discipline regulations was identified, in 237 the allegation was withdrawn and in 173 no misbehaviour was identified following a criminal investigation.

In the case of 76 allegations the report said that complainant failed to engage with the investigation.

While in seven instances, the garda that was subject to a disciplinary investigation either retired or resigned prior to or during the investigation.

The report shows that 62 sanctions were imposed on gardaí by the Garda Commissioner following complaints.

Common complaints

GSOC made 54 mandatory referrals to the Child Protection Agency Tusla, as well as 71 non-mandatory referrals.

The three most common complaints were about alleged neglect of duty by a garda (33%), non-fatal offences (21%), such as assault, and abuse of authority (20%).

According to the report, GSOC also carried out 17 public interest investigations, where no complaint was made.

In his foreword to the report, GSOC Chairperson Rory MacCabe said that "policing oversight is hard" and he expressed concern about the Policing Security and Community Safety Bill which aims to transform policing oversight.

Mr MacCabe said that while the "Bill represents a significant step forward," GSOC "remains concerned that it continues to impose a degree of ministerial involvement in the governance and operations of the new Office of the Police Ombudsman that is inconsistent with the institutional independence envisioned by the Commission on the Future of Policing or by the Council of Europe's 'Venice Principles'".

"It also fails to require An Garda Síochána to cooperate fully and promptly with the agency’s investigations," Mr MacCabe said.

"As the Bill continues its passage through the Oireachtas in 2023, we will continue to articulate these concerns, some of which we hope can be addressed by the Oireachtas," the GSOC Chairperson said.