Garda members continued to cancel 999 calls after controversy, says Harris

ireland
Garda Members Continued To Cancel 999 Calls After Controversy, Says Harris Garda Members Continued To Cancel 999 Calls After Controversy, Says Harris
Emergency calls to the Garda’s 999 phone lines have continued to be cancelled, with no policing response, despite controversy after details about cancelled calls emerged.
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Emergency calls to the Garda’s 999 phone lines have continued to be cancelled, with no policing response, despite controversy after details about cancelled calls emerged.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said investigations were ongoing into the matter.

Mr Harris said 53 cancellations had come to the attention of senior Garda officers since the controversy broke publicly about 10 months ago, according to The Irish Times.

He said he was “shocked” that 999 calls were still being cancelled.

Policing Authority chairman, Bob Collins, said it was “completely incredible and an extraordinarily risky and grave matter” to continue cancelling 999 calls.

Mr Collins added that it was “wholly inappropriate and utterly dismissive” to discharge a serious responsibility to the public in that way.

The Garda Commissioner said he “wished he had an insight” into the motivations of those involved.

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“In truth I don’t, I really don’t understand it,” he told a meeting of the Policing Authority on Thursday afternoon.

Mr Harris said he was “shocked” Garda personnel had continued to “take a shortcut of their own volition” and cancel 999 calls.

He said a programme of staff re-training, and changes to the call and dispatch technology, had been introduced in a bid to prevent further 999 calls being cancelled.

Last year, it emerged that thousands of 999 calls had been cancelled since the start of 2019.

However, internal investigations found that the numbers of victims missed and crimes not recorded were 'very low'.

An independent inquiry into the matter is still ongoing.

“None of this has any benefit to them, yet it has exposed all of them to the peril of inquiry,” Mr Harris said of the Garda personnel who are still cancelling 999 calls.

It had created a risk, he said, that people in need of emergency policing response, including domestic violence victims, had been ignored.

Mr Harris told Policing Authority chairman, Bob Collins, a member of Garda staff had spotted the continued cancellation of calls by colleagues acting of their own volition, before taking their concerns to a chief superintendent.

Almost all of the 53 recently cancelled calls related to alarms being triggered, he added.

Mr Collins said it was “a strikingly, almost bizarre development”, adding that the calls looked “mundane”.

“It is very difficult to get one’s head around it, including the risk that these individuals must have known they were taking by acting in such blatant departure from procedures that had been laid down,” he said.

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