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Twenty years of handling police complaints in Ireland: a critical assessment of the supervisory board model

  • Dermot PJ Walsh (a1)
Abstract

Twenty years after Ireland adopted an external supervisory board model to promote public confidence in the handling of complaints against the police (the Garda Síochána), it had to replace it with a cross between the Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland and the Independent Police Complaints Commission in England and Wales. This paper examines the nature and scale of the board's failure and offers a critique of the internal and external factors responsible. It focuses, in particular, on how the police and the government, acting separately and in combination, managed to smother the potential of the supervisory board model. It also offers insights into how the board contributed to its own failure. The paper concludes by drawing attention to the fact that several of these negative forces can also be active in the new complaints procedure that commenced operations in 2007.

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1 There is now a very substantial literature on the handling of police complaints over this period. A few examples of some relevance to the analysis in this paper include Smith G A Most Enduring Problem: Police Complaints Reforms in England and Wales’ (2006) 35 Journal of Social Policy 121 ;

2 Goldsmith and Lewis, above n 1, pp 1–5.

3 It also features an extension of external review methods into developing countries with very different socio-economic inequalities and political traditions.

4 In contrast to the British tradition of local police forces, Ireland is policed by a single national force under direct central government control. It also functions as the State's security service as there is no separate MI5 or MI6. See Walsh Dpj The Irish Police: A Legal and Constitutional Perspective (Dublin: Round Hall Sweet & Maxwell, 1998).

5 Throughout that period citizen complaints against police officers for acts or omissions in the course of duty were dealt with, if at all, through the criminal process or the internal disciplinary procedure; see ibid, chs7–9 and 11.

6 The trigger for this legislation was the public opposition to the expansion of police powers which was proposed in the Criminal Justice Bill 1983. To secure the enactment of that Bill, the government had to undertake to introduce a formal police complaints procedure and safeguards for persons detained in police custody. These, together with the 1983 Bill (the Criminal Justice Act 1984) came into effect in 1987.

7 Police (Northern Ireland) Order 1977. See I Topping ‘The Police Complaints System in Northern Ireland’ in Goldsmith, above n 1, ch 7.

8 Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984, Part ix. See M Maguire ‘Complaints against the Police: The British Experience’ in ibid, ch 5.

9 Dail Debates vol 363, col 729, 28 January 1986.

10 The relevant legislation was the Garda Síochána (Complaints) Act 1986, which was put into effect on 6 April 1987 by the Garda Síochána Act 1986 (Establishment Day) Order 1987.

11 The new procedure is established by Part IV of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 which was brought into effect on 9 May 2007 by the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (Commencement) (No 3) Order 2007.

12 Police (Northern Ireland) Act 1998, Part vii. See Hayes M A Police Ombudsman for Northern Ireland? (Belfast: Northern Ireland Office, 1997).

13 Police Reform Act 2002, Part 2. See Clayton R and Tomlinson H Civil Actions against the Police (London: Thomson Sweet & Maxwell, 3rd edn, 2004) paras 2-021–2-105. Scotland has opted for a version of the review model with the Police, Public Order and Criminal Justice (Scotland) Act 2006. The Police Complaints Commissioner for Scotland established by that Act took up office just one month before the Irish Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission.

14 For discussion of some of the challenges, see: E Luna and S Walker ‘Institutional Structure vs Political Will: Albuquerque as a Case Study in the Effectiveness of Civilian Oversight of Police’ in Goldsmith and Lewis, above n 1, ch 4; D Brereton ‘Evaluating the Performance of External Oversight Bodies’ in Goldsmith and Lewis, ibid, ch 5.

15 See, eg, Hayes, above n 12, ch 2.

16 Dail Debates vol 363, col 729, 28 January 1986.

17 See, eg, Landau T When Police Investigate Police: a View from Complainants’ (1996) Canadian Journal of Criminology 291 ;

18 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1999 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2000) pp 9–10.

19 Luna and Walker, above n 14, pp 99–102.

20 Ibid.

21 P Stenning ‘Evaluating Police Complaints Legislation: A Suggested Framework’ in Goldsmith and Lewis, above n 1, ch 7; Hayes, above n 12.

22 Brereton, above n 14.

23 See, generally, Goldsmith and Lewis, above n 1.

24 Loveday, above n 1; Maguire, above n 8, ch 5.

25 Luna and Walker, above n 14, pp 90–91.

26 A Goldsmith ‘External Review and Self Regulation: Police Accountability and the Dialectic of Complaints Procedures’ in Goldsmith, above n 1, ch 1.

27 Brereton, above n 14; Stenning, above n 21; Hayes, above n 12, ch 10.

28 See, eg, Goldsmith, above n 1; and Goldsmith and Lewis, above n 1.

29 Garda Síochána (Complaints) Act 1986, s 3 and Sch 1, para 2(4)(b). No other member could be a current or former member of the Garda Síochána; para 2(4)(c).

30 Ibid, s 3, Sch 1, para 5.

31 Ibid, s 3, Sch 1, para 2.

32 Ibid, s 3, Sch 1, paras 2 and 6.

33 Ibid, s 3, Sch 1, para 4(3).

34 Ibid, s 13.

35 Ibid, s 3, Sch 1, para 1(2).

36 See C Lewis ‘The Politics of Civilian Oversight: Serious Commitment or Lip Service?’ in Goldsmith and Lewis, above n 1, ch 1; I Freckleton ‘Shooting the Messenger: The Trial and Execution of the Victorian Police Complaints Authority’ in Goldsmith, above n 1, ch 2.

37 Complaints made to the Garda Síochána had to be passed on to the Board's chief executive; Garda Síochána (Complaints) Act 1986, s 4(2).

38 Ibid, s 4(3)(a)(i) and (ii).

39 Ibid, s 4(3)(a)(iv)–(vi).

40 Ibid, s 4(3)(a)(iii) and s 1 and Sch 4.

41 Ibid, ss 4(3)(c) and 5(1).

42 Ibid, s 5(3)(a).

43 Ibid, s 5(3)(b).

44 The prospects of a successful informal resolution were enhanced by the fact that a statement made either by the complainant or the member concerned for the purposes of an informal resolution was not admissible in evidence in any proceedings; ibid, s 5(6).

45 Ibid, s 5(5).

46 Ibid, s 5(4).

47 Ibid, s 6(1)(a).

48 Ibid, s 6(1)(c).

49 Ibid, s 6(3). If the conduct alleged in a complaint constituted an offence, a direction could not be given to the investigating officer without the consent of the DPP; s 6(7)(a). This meant routing all such communications through the DPP. The Board criticised this requirement as being highly wasteful and frustrating; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Second Triennial Review Report 1990–1992 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1992) ch 4.

50 Garda Síochána (Complaints) Act 1986, s 6(8).

51 The procedure would be triggered by the investigating officer forming the necessary opinion. He would then inform the Commissioner who, if of the same opinion, would inform the Minister.

52 Garda Síochána (Complaints) Act 1986, s 6(5).

53 Goldsmith's and Lewis' second wave of civilian review systems reflected much greater use of a facility to conduct investigations independently of the police; see Goldsmith and Lewis, above n 1, p 2.

54 Inevitably, this meant that a very large number of complaints were re-routed through the DPP, although they would come back to the Board many months later when the DPP had decided (as he did in the vast majority of such cases) against prosecution.

55 Garda Síochána (Complaints) Act 1986, s 7(4)(a). This was an exceptionally cumbersome option. The complaint would already have been the subject of an investigation under the general supervision of the Board. It would then have been considered by the Board. Before deciding to refer it to the Commissioner the Board had to invite and, where applicable, consider representations from the member concerned; s 7(4)(b). The Commissioner then had to consider the matter with a view to determining whether the member had committed a breach of discipline. This, in turn, required inviting and considering representations from the member. If the Commissioner concluded that a breach of discipline had been committed, only then could he have dealt with the matter by way of advice, admonition or a warning.

56 Ibid, s 7(9). This applied only where the Board, after having considered the investigation report, was of the opinion that the conduct alleged in the complaint did not constitute an offence or where the DPP had decided, after referral from the Board, that criminal proceedings should not be instituted; s 7((9)(a). Where it appeared to the investigating officer that a complaint may have constituted a criminal offence, he had to apply the law and practice applicable to the investigation of criminal offences to the investigation; s 6(1)(b).

57 Ibid, s 9(7)((d) and (e).

58 In its early reports the Board attributed this lack of use to the voluntary cooperation of members; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Triennial Review Report 1987–1989 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1989) ch 3; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1994 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1995) ch 5. This explanation sits uneasily with the Board's later assertion that investigations were frequently met with a wall of silence; Annual Report 2004 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2005) p 7. In its 2002 report, the Board expressed the view that police officers should be under a straight duty to answer questions in the course of an investigation; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2002 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2003) p 13.

59 Garda Síochána (Complaints) Act 1986, s 8.

60 Ibid, s 8 and Sch 2, para 1(a) and (b). In its third triennial report the Board referred to the risk of a constitutional challenge to tribunals because of the presence of Board members on them. It recommended consideration of the establishment of a permanent tribunal with no Board members on it; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Third Triennial Review Report 1993–1998 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1999) ch 6.

61 In its 2002 report the Board considered that its representation on a tribunal was problematic as it meant that its two representatives could be sitting in judgment on the work of their colleagues at the investigative stage; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2002 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2003) p 13.

62 Garda Síochána (Complaints) Act 1986, s 8 and Sch 2, para 1(c).

63 The punishment options ranged from dismissal to a caution.

64 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1999 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2000) ch 3.

65 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Third Triennial Review Report 1993–1998 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1999) ch 6. In its annual report for 1999, the Board expressed the view that the Act already provided cover for the chief executive to be legally represented; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1999 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2000) ch 3

66 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1999, ibid, ch 3

67 Ibid, pp 9–10.

68 See Walsh Dpj Human Rights and Policing in Ireland: Law, Policy and Practice (Dublin: Clarus Press, 2009) at part 2 for an account of the range and depth of Garda corruption and abuse over the period of the Board's existence.

69 The Board found that only a very small minority of complaints could be considered maliciously false; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Triennial Review Report 1990–1992 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1992) para 2.29.

70 See Brereton, above n 14, for discussion of the difficulties facing any assessment of the extent to which external review bodies contribute to improvements in policing behaviour.

71 Hayes, above n 12, ch 18.

72 Stenning makes the important point that if the complaints process does not deal with issues of police policy or service, then there must be some other forum for dealing with them; Stenning, above n 21, p 150.

73 Walsh, above n 68, ch 36.

74 A similar rate featured in Northern Ireland in the 1980s; Topping, above n 7, pp 251–252. In England and Wales the rate was just over 4%; Maguire, above n 8, p 187. For other examples of rates in single figures, see Brereton, above n 14, pp 113–114.

75 Of all the systems surveyed in the course of this research, the only other one to return a substantiation rate of about 1% was the corresponding system operating across the border in Northern Ireland at the time.

76 The manner in which the data are presented renders it difficult to offer a confident statement on the proportion of complaints that were dismissed or excluded on the grounds that they were frivolous or vexatious. The figure that I have calculated is about 16%. It is also worth noting that in a few individual years the proportion increased or decreased suddenly and dramatically without explanation or apparent reason.

77 The Israeli civilian review board (Machash) suffered from a similar impediment in dealing with complaints that related to policy or service matters, as distinct from the wrongdoing of an indentifiable police officer. Herzog considered that this narrow focus meant that the procedure was doomed to failure; S. Herzog ‘Evaluating the New Civilian Complaints Board in Israel’ in Goldsmith and Lewis, above n 1, p 146.

78 This has been noted as a feature in some other jurisdictions; Landau, above n 17; Brown, above n 17; Russell K Complaints against the Police: A Sociological View (Leicester: Milltak Ltd, 1976).

79 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1988–1989 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1989) ch 1.

80 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1989 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1990) ch 4.

81 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1999 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2000) ch 1.

82 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1998 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1999) ch 2.

83 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1999 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2000) ch 1.

84 Ibid, ch 1.

85 C. Lewis ‘Police Complaints in Metropolitan Toronto: Perspectives of the Public Complaints Commissioner’ in Goldsmith, above n 1, ch 4.

86 Lewis, above n 36, p 20.

87 C. Beattie and R. Weitzer ‘Race, Democracy and Law: Civilian Review of Police in Washington D.C.’ in Goldsmith and Lewis, above n 1, ch 2; Luna and Walker, above n 14, ch 4; A Goldsmith ‘Police Accountability Reform in Columbia: The Civilian Oversight Experiment’ in Goldsmith and Lewis, above n 1, ch 8.

88 It is generally accepted that police cooperation is a vital pre-requisite for the success of a police complaints procedure; D Bayley ‘Preface’ to Goldsmith, above n 1, pp v–ix; R Terrill ‘Civilian Oversight of the Police Complaints Process in the United States: Concerns, Developments, and More Concerns’ in Goldsmith, above n 1, ch 9.

89 In 1999 the Board received legal advice to the effect that such complaints were inadmissible under the Act; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1999 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2000) ch 4.

90 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Third Triennial Report 1993–1998 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1998) ch 2. In its second triennial report the Board asserted that police officers were trained to set out the options for complainants in a neutral manner and, rather contradictorily, from the general presumption that all complainants want their complaints to be considered by the Board. It went on to say that it was its experience that this training was being implemented appropriately; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Second Triennial Report 1990–1992 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1992) ch 2.

91 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Third Triennial Report 1993–1998 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1998) ch 2. The Board preferred a more cumbersome arrangement whereby it could refer a case to the Attorney General who would then have the power to request it to investigate the matter in the public interest.

92 The reality, of course, is that the Board's primary function was to oversee the investigation of complaints with a view to determining whether they merited being referred to a tribunal for adjudication; McCormack v Garda Síochána Complaints Board [1997] 2 ILRM 321.

93 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2003 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2004) pp 11–12.

94 The Board's successor, the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission, has this power; Garda Síochána Act 2005, s 102(2)(b) and (4).

95 Carlton v DPP and Garda Síochána Complaints Board [1999] 2 IR 518.

96 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1987–1988 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1988) ch 2, para 14.

97 Ibid.

98 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1992 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1993) ch 2. Strangely, the Board made no mention of the fact that the Garda had issued a circular along very similar lines in 1991; see Circular 24(L) 91 of 1 July 1991.

99 See Carlton v DPP, above n 95.

100 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Triennial Report 1987–1989 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1990) ch 3, para 28.

101 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Second Triennial Report 1990–1992 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1993) ch 4.

102 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Third Triennial Report 1993–1998 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1999) ch 5.

103 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1999 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2000) ch 2. For a number of months appointments continued to be made in breach of these principles. It was only after the chief executive met Garda management to discuss the issue that the number of superintendents being appointed as investigating officers increased significantly.

104 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Third TriennialReport 1993–1998 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1999) ch 5.

105 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2000 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2001) ch 3.

106 As early as its second annual report the Board stated that it was not in a position to get involved in an investigation until after the report was received; in other words until the investigation itself had already been carried out by a member of the Garda; see Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1988–1989 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1989) ch 3, para 12. One year later it was reporting that due to a lack of resources the level of supervision was minimal; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1989 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1990) ch 3

107 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1987–1988 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1988) ch 2, para 16.

108 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Second Triennial Report 1990–1992 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1993) ch 4.

109 See, eg, Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1990 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1991) ch 3.

110 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1994 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1995) ch 5.

111 A more likely explanation for this, as revealed by the Morris Tribunal when referring to its equivalent in the Garda disciplinary procedure, is that the provisions were so complex, legalistic and cumbersome as to be virtually unworkable; Report on Explosives ‘Finds’ in Donegal (Dublin: Government Stationery Office, 2004) paras 13.110–13.112.

112 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Third Triennial Review Report 1993–1998 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1999) ch 1. See also its annual report for 1997.

113 Ibid, ch 5.

114 Ibid, ch.5. Ironically, that is exactly what the Board itself did only a few years later in its attempt to generate public confidence in its ‘independent’ investigation of the complaints associated with the police handling of the ‘Reclaim the streets rally’ (see later). It should also be noted that the ‘independent’ investigators of the Board's successor, the Garda Siochana Ombudsman Commission, includes both former and current members of the force.

115 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1999 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2000) p 10. Strangely, it claimed that it made that recommendation in its third triennial report. In fact, in that report it re-stated its opposition to anything other than serving police officers as investigators.

116 Ibid, p 9.

117 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2000 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2001) p 9.

118 Ibid, p 10.

119 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2003 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2004) p 11.

120 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2002 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2003) p 13.

121 Brereton, above n 14, ch 5; R Reiner ‘Multiple Realities, Divided Worlds: Chief Constables' Perspectives on the Police Complaints System' in Goldsmith, above n 1, ch 6; Reiner R. The Politics of the Police (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 3rd edn, 2000), p 187 ;

122 Brereton, above n 14; Herzog, above n 77, ch 6; Hayes, above n 12, ch 13.

123 Brereton, above n 14, p 115; Herzog, above n 77, p 119.

124 Brereton, above n 14, pp 121–122; Herzog, above n 77, 140–141.

125 Stenning, above n 21, pp 155–160.

126 Maguire, above n 8, pp 189–191 and 205.

127 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2004 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2005) p 9.

128 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2005 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2006) p 8.

129 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Triennial Report 1987–1989 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1989) ch 3.

130 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Second Triennial Report 1990–1992 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1992) ch 5.

131 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2000 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2001) ch 4.

132 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2006 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2007) p 7.

133 The most that the Ombudsman Commission can do after investigating a complaint that does not result in a criminal prosecution is submit a report to the Garda Commissioner with a recommendation for disciplinary action. The decision on whether to take such action rests with the Garda Commissioner. See Garda Síochána Act 2005, ss 97 and 101.

134 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Second Triennial Report 1990–1992 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1992) p 12.

135 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2003 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2004) p 11.

136 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1987–1988 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1988) ch 2. Six years later the reports of the Morris Tribunal of Inquiry were much more scathing about the capacity of police officers to frustrate the effective application of discipline within the Garda; see, eg, Report on Explosives ‘Finds’ in Donegal (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2004) paras 13.97–13.108.

137 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1991 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1992) ch 3.

138 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2006 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2007) p 8.

139 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Triennial Report 1987–1989 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1989) ch 3. Only a few years later it had reversed its position on this; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Second Triennial Report 1990–1992 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1992) ch 3.

140 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Third Triennial Report 1993–1998 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1998) ch 4.

141 Garda Síochána Act 2005, s 90(3).

142 Brereton, above n 14, p 115; Herzog, above n 77, p.142; Maguire and Corbett, above n 1.

143 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1999 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2000) ch 3.

144 Ibid.

145 CPT/Inf (95) 14 at para 55.

146 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Third Triennial Report 1993–1998 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1999) ch 6. The chairman expressed that view in emphatic terms in the Board's 2006 report; Annual Report 2006 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2007) p 6.

147 Above n 145, para 55.

148 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Third Triennial Report 1993–1998 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1998) ch 7.

149 Dail Debates vol 363, col 729, 28 January 1986.

150 Stenning, above n 21, pp 159–160; Goldsmith, above n 26, ch 1.

151 Stenning, ibid, pp 155–156.

152 Lewis, above n 36, ch 1.

153 See, eg, T Landau ‘Back to the Future: The Death of Civilian Review of Public Complaints against the Police in Ontario, Canada’ in Goldsmith and Lewis, above n 1, ch 3; Luna and Walker, above n 14, ch 4; Goldsmith, above n 87, ch 8; B Manby ‘The South African Independent Complaints Directorate’ in Goldsmith and Lewis, above n 1, ch 9; R Nield ‘Confronting a Culture of Impunity: The Promise and Pitfalls of Civilian Review of Police in Latin America’ in Goldsith and Lewis, above n 1, p 252; M O'Rawe and L Moore ‘Accountability and Police Complaints in Northern Ireland: Leaving the Past Behind?’ in Goldsmith and Lewis, above n 1, pp 274–281.

154 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Triennial Review Report 1987–1989 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1990) ch 5.

155 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2000 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2001) p 10.

156 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2002 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2003) p 12.

157 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1988–1989 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1989) ch 3; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Triennial Report 1987–1989 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1990) ch 3. A contrary note is sounded in its very first report when the Board reported that it issued directions to investigating officers in about one quarter of cases and had extensive informal contact with them in many other cases; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1987–1988 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1998) ch 2. Presumably this experience did not last much beyond the first year.

158 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1989 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1990) ch3.

159 Garda Síochána (Complaints) Act 1986, s 3 and Sch 1, para 4(1).

160 In the form of the Minister for Justice and Minister for Public Service, as they were at that time.

161 Garda Síochána (Complaints) Act 1986, s 3 and Sch 1, para 4(3).

162 Garda Síochána Act 2005, s 71.

163 Ibid, s 78.

164 Ibid, s 76.

165 Garda Síochána (Complaints) Act 1986, s 6(5).

166 Walsh, above n 68, Part 2.

167 It is possible that the Board received many more complaints about the policing of the rally, but that many of them were declared inadmissible. The annual report does not provide any information on this at all, beyond saying that the Board received 41 admissible complaints.

168 It is possible that the DPP's decision was not based exclusively on the Board's report. It seems that the Garda also carried out its own investigation of the events. It follows that the DPP would have had the Garda file as well as the Board's report when making his decision.

169 The Board treated these cases as minor matters because one member offered an explanation for not wearing the ID tag, while the other three were seen to be wearing them at a later stage (not specified).

170 A significant factor undermining the potential of some civilian review boards to capture public confidence is the practice of not keeping complainants informed of progress in the investigation and the reasons why a complaint is not upheld; see, eg, Herzog, above n 77, pp 141–142.

171 Lewis, above n 36, pp 35–38; Hayes, above n 12, ch 15.

172 Surprisingly, the Board failed to discharge its statutory obligation to produce a triennial report in 1995. Instead it produced a 6-year review in 1998, citing a lack of resources for its earlier failure. Since 1998 it did not produce any triennial reviews.

173 See above n 170.

174 Brereton, above n 14, p 120; Herzog, above n 77, pp 144–145; Stenning, above n 21, pp 161–162.

175 Strangely, it seems that the Board did carry out an in-depth review of vexatious complaints in the early 1990s but did not publish any details of the research beyond its broad findings; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Second Triennial Review Report 1990–1992 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1992) ch 2.

176 The civil procedure for tackling anti-social behaviour was not introduced until 2006.

177 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1998 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1999) ch 1.

178 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1999 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2000) ch 4.

179 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 1990 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 1991) ch 4.

180 Ten years later the Board was calling for the replacement of the Act as a matter of urgency; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2000 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2001).

181 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2003 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2004) p 14.

182 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2006 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2007) p 9.

183 Ibid.

184 In its 2007 report the Board did make some attempt to justify its performance in the handling of the ‘McBrearty’ complaints that featured prominently in some of the reports of the Morris Tribunal; Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2007 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2008) pp 7–8.

185 Report into the effectiveness of the Garda Síochána Inquiry Process vis-à-vis the complaints made by Frank McBrearty Snr and his family between 1997 and 2001 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2008) para 11.104.

186 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2006 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2007) p 9.

187 Ibid, p 9.

188 Ibid, p 6.

189 While it can be legitimate to draw such a connection in some circumstances (see Brereton, above n 14, pp 116–117), it lacks conviction at a time when police corruption is receiving widespread publicity, as it was at the time in Ireland.

190 The author is one of the few academics who has published written and oral criticisms of the Board and the procedures. These criticisms have always been made with a view to promoting improvement and never with the object of destroying public confidence in the Board or the procedure. Just for the record, he should point out that he has been inside police stations in the course of his research in Belfast, Dublin, Limerick, Amsterdam, New York, Washington, Philadelphia and Harrisburg (Pennsylvania).

191 Garda Síochána Complaints Board Annual Report 2007 (Dublin: Stationery Office, 2008) p 6.

192 Ibid, p 7.

193 Ibid, p 9.

194 Walsh Dpj The Proposed Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission: a Critique’ (2004) 14(1) Irish Criminal Law Journal 2 ; Hayes, above n 12, ch 11.

195 W Petterson ‘Police Accountability and Civilian Oversight of Policing’ in Goldsmith, above n 1, ch 8.

196 Goldsmith, above n 26, ch 1.

* The research for this paper was made possible by the grant of a Government of Ireland Senior Research Fellowship in the Humanities and Social Sciences by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences.

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