One officer cancelled 744 FCN’s across 17 counties
The Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission GSOC today published their report into the investigation of fixed charge notice cancellations. The report covers the period between 2009 and 2014. A copy of the report has been sent to the Minister for Justice and Equality along with the acting Garda Commissioner.
The investigation made a number of findings of widespread exploitation of failings in the Garda Siochána system for processing Fixed Charge Penalty Notices in the period examined.
GSOC said that they met with Sergeant Maurice McCabe five times during the investigation. GSOC’s 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 Sgt McCabe.
GSOC received data relating to the issuing of 1.6 million Fixed Charge Notices (FCN’s) and 74,373 cancellations of FCN’s in the four years 2009 to 2012 inclusive.
The key issues highlighted by the analysis of cancellations data include:
- Too many members of the Garda Síochána were authorised to cancel FCN’s – a total of 442 in the four years.
- Cancellations were carried out by superintendents and inspectors for FCN’s outside their geographical area, contrary to policy – one officer cancelled 744 FCN’s across 17 counties.
72% of all cancelled FCN’s 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 credentials of retired Authorising Members (senior gardaí authorised to cancel FCNs) were used to authorise cancellations.
- Having reviewed the research and analytical work undertaken to date and taking into account both the likely high cost of a more expansive and detailed investigation and the extensive reform of the Fixed Charge Penalty System in recent years, the Ombudsman Commission has decided not to proceed to another phase of investigation.
“A number of non-financial challenges would also affect a more detailed investigation. Work would be hampered by a lack of supporting documentation for large portions of the cancellations; because of the lapse of time, there is no possibility of recovering fines or otherwise sanctioning motorists who may have had FCN’s cancelled improperly; and there is no guarantee that prosecution of, or disciplinary action against, any Garda member could be taken.”
“We believe that a continued emphasis on maintaining the controls and oversight mechanisms which have been inserted into the FCPS and which include the establishment of an oversight authority would serve better to improve public confidence in the Fixed Charge Penalty System.”