From top: RTÉ penalty points graphic and a screengrab from the Garda Professional Standards Unit’s report published yesterday
You’ll recall how Sgt Maurice McCabe claimed last September that certain gardaí were continuing to cancel penalty points for colleagues, friends and relations, despite assurances from Garda management that the practice no longer took place, particularly since new regulations were introduced on June 16.
The new regulations meant just three senior gardaí could cancel penalty points.
After Sgt McCabe’s claims were reported in The Sunday Times, the Garda Professional Standards Unit [GPSU] was ordered to carry out an investigation into the claims which led to a two-volume report.
Volume One of the report was published yesterday. Volume Two will not be published.
It shows that the GPSU examined 667 cancellation cases.
Of those 667 cases, 54 were quashed after June 16 – the date of change in legislation.
Of those 54, the GPSU says seven need further examination.
But overall, of the 667, the GPSU has concluded that 114 of them need further investigation – a fifth of which concern serving or retired gardai.
Sgt McCabe – though he wasn’t named in the report – he gave the GPSU details of 115 people who had points cancelled between January 1, 2009 to November 1, 2014.
This list included details of 31 serving or retired gardaí who had 289 cancellations. The GPSU requested access to files in relation to these cases between January 1, 2013 and November 1, 2014.
This yielded 239 case files. Of those 239 files, the GPSU did not receive 7 cancellation files. Details of these seven cancellations are in Volume Two of the report which has not been published.
In the report, the GPSU writes:
“GPSU examined these cancellations with information available from PULSE and FCPS [Fixed Charge Processing System] and have assessed them as ‘Further Investigation Required’. “
Last night, RTÉ One’s Prime Time political correspondent Katie Hannon highlighted how the report shows that, by comparing the the months of July and August 2013 with that of 2014, the GPSU shows that the number of penalty point cancellations dropped by 45.
However, as she shows in her graphic, the rate of cancellations actually rose from 3.78% to 3.95%.
From the GPSU report
As for the reasons that penalty points were cancelled, the biggest reason was that the fixed charge notice went undelivered.
Comparing July and August of 2013 with that of 2014, the GPSU found this reason rose by 91.5%.
The ‘medical emergency’ reason dropped by 99.4%.
Yesterday, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald announced former president of the Circuit Court, Judge Matthew Deery will oversee the penalty points process in the future.
Watch Prime Time here