There were 557 criminal investigations into garda conduct in 2021, the latest report from the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) shows.
According to GSOC, there was as a 12 per cent increase in the number of complaints opened in 2021. In total there were 2,189 complaints opened containing 3,760 allegations.
However, just 61 per cent of complaints were ruled admissible.
GSOC also made 60 findings of disciplinary breaches, resulting in the sanction of offending gardaí by the Garda Commissioner.
Some of the breaches included failure to investigate allegations of abuse, discreditable conduct, failures in securing evidence, and abuse of authority.
The report details there were 59 referrals from An Garda Síochána of matters where it appeared "the conduct of a member of the Garda Síochána may have resulted in the death of or serious harm to a person". This represents a 40 per cent increase.
The new figures also show there were 21 files sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP).
Of those, there were 13 prosecutions directed by DPP arising from 10 of the files submitted. The DPP directed no prosecution in 11 cases.
Criminal charges and sentences related to cases of sexual assault, domestic abuse, assault and theft.
Speaking on the publication of the report, GSOC chair, Judge Rory MacCabe, said: “[The year] 2021 saw GSOC deliver on our statutory mandate, which, in the context of the growing caseload, significant staff changes and ongoing challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic, shines a positive light on the energy and commitment of the staff at all levels.
“The report also looks to GSOC’s future. The sweeping changes proposed in the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill, if implemented, create a new Garda Ombudsman with significantly enhanced functions and independence.
“These proposals are a positive platform from which a clearly defined and long-signalled gap in Ireland’s policing accountability infrastructure will be addressed.
“If reform is to achieve its aims, it is crucial that adequate resources, staffing, expertise and cooperation are guaranteed.”