Jack Quann
Jack Quann

09.10 25 Jun 2021


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Calls to 999 cannot be cancelled - except by supervisors - because of new processes in the force, Justice Minister Heather Humphreys says.

It comes after Garda Commissioner Drew Harris apologised to victims of domestic abuse that did not receive the standard of care they should have.

This follows an internal review of 3,120 domestic violence calls that were marked as cancelled, rather than progressed on to the Pulse system for further investigation.

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Of those, one-third had a valid reason for being cancelled – including incidents where a number of neighbours had made different 999 calls about the same incident.

However, 45% of the calls have been sent to Garda divisions for further investigation.

Some Gardaí will face re-training in how to deal with domestic violence emergency calls.

Minister Humphreys told Newstalk Breakfast things have now changed.

"First of all I just want to say that this is a very serious issue, and the Garda Commissioner has assured me that where someone calls 999 now they can expect and trust that An Garda Síochána will help - and that should always be the case.

"And this does fall significantly below the high standards the public expect of the Gardaí, and the standards that An Garda Síochána should set for itself.

"The Commissioner has put new process in place to ensure this never happens again, and that's welcome.

"And I also welcome the fact that he apologised yesterday to the victims - and I'm particularly concerned too that anyone experiencing domestic abuse, and indeed anyone in a vulnerable position, who gets the courage to seek assistance and they may not have received it."

Minister Humphreys says the changes mean a call can only be cancelled by a supervisor.

"The processes have changed, a call cannot be cancelled now unless it's referred to a supervisor.

"Additional training will be provided to staff, and of course it is a difficult job that they deal with because they're dealing with people who are traumatised.

"But we must ensure that they have the proper skills to carry out their duties - it's a serious issue."

She adds that the Government was told of the issue back in December.

"This was identified as a problem within An Garda Síochána last October as part of their own internal processes, the Department of Justice was told in December by An Garda Síochána that it had begun to examine the cancellation of 999 calls.

"The Garda Síochána also informed the Policing Authority in December, and then after discussions with the Garda Síochána in February Minister [Helen] McEntee asked the Policing Authority to oversee the investigation by An Garda Síochána".

A report will now be prepared by the Policing Authority and given to the Justice Minister, which Minister Humphreys says "will be acted upon".

Asked if this could include disciplinary action, she says: "We have to continue on and look at and see what the outcomes are but what we're seeing here is proper accountability.

"There's a process in place and if wrongdoing is found, disciplinary issues are a matter for the organisation".

Minister Humphreys adds that she does have confidence in Commissioner Harris.

999 calls 'cannot be cancelled' as part of new process - Humphreys

00:00:00 / 00:00:00

   

Main image: Minister Heather Humphreys speaking to media on the plinth outside Leinster House ahead of the 2021 Fine Gael Ard Fheis. Picture by: Leah Farrell / RollingNews.ie

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999 Calls Cancelled Calls Domestic Abuse Drew Harris Heather Humphreys Newstalk Breakfast

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