Victims of crime asked for feedback on new garda code of conduct

Draft code includes guidelines aimed at supporting whistleblowing at every level of force

Garda Siochana, Code of Ethics, Policing Authority, public submissions, Josephine Feehily

File photo: RollingNews.ie

Gardaí have been encouraged to speak up against wrongdoing in a new draft code of ethics published by the Policing Authority.

The code, which was drawn up in the wake of a string of garda scandals, includes guidelines aimed at supporting whistleblowing by both officers and civilian employees of the force.

Its recommendations place particular responsibility on members of senior management, who are told they “must support, encourage and facilitate speaking up at every level in the organisation”.

The code also includes commitments that all gardaí must abide by when faced with “unprofessional, unethical, illegal, or corrupt behaviour in any form”.

It says employees must report or challenge such behaviour, regardless of the responsible person’s identity or rank, and support colleagues that are victimised as a result of speaking up.

The draft code of ethics includes additional guidelines on handling sensitive information, using social media and respecting the dignity of all people.

The document singles out misuse of the force's Pulse system as another possible violation of the rules.

Officers with legitimate access to police databases are forbidden, for instance, from using these to check the history of a second-hand vehicle they might want to buy, it says. 

The code applies to every person working in the Garda Síochána, at every rank or grade, including civilians, reserve gardaí and sworn members.

The independent, nine-person Policing Authority, which is led by former Revenue chief Josephine Feeley, was established in January 2016 following a number of controversies surrounding alleged garda malpractice. 

Victims of crime have been asked offer feedback on the draft code before its final form is published later this year.

The official code, which will build on existing whistleblower guidelines, must be established before the statutory deadline of December 31th.

Members of the public, civil society organisations, statutory bodies and employees of the force can make submissions no later than close of business on September 23rd.

The Policing Authority is also holding a consultation event on September 8th at the Chartered Accountants House on Pearse Street, Dublin 2. Further details can be found at www.policingauthority.ie.