458. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the measures he has put in place to reduce the number of fraudulent motor insurance claims here; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [18716/19]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The Deputy will be aware that the Cost of Insurance Working Group (CIWG) was established by the Minister for Finance in July 2016.
The CIWG's Report on the Cost of Motor Insurance was published in January 2017 and insurance fraud is one of the key themes of the report. Among the recommendations contained in the report is a proposal to establish an insurance fraud database for industry to identify patterns of fraud (Recommendation 25). Enhancing cooperation between the insurance industry and An Garda Síochána was also recommended (Recommendation 26).
The Insurance Fraud Database Working Group, chaired by the Department of Justice and Equality, met most recently in March to further discuss the establishment of the proposed database, following consideration of data protection issues over the past year. Further consultations with the ODPC is also envisaged in view of the nature of this recommendation.
Separately, recommendation 26 of the CIWG seeks to explore the potential for improving cooperation between the insurance sector and An Garda Síochána.
The Commissioner has undertaken to consider how insurance fraud investigation can be further developed within the force. The Commissioner is of the view that a divisional focus is preferable as opposed to the establishment of a centralised investigation unit. It is the intention of the Commissioner to put in place a coordinator within the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau (GNECB) to guide divisions in the investigation of insurance fraud.
While the Commissioner has already publicly signalled his opposition to an industry-funded investigative unit, An Garda Síochána is open to considering other industry-funded proposals to combat insurance fraud, for example, IT projects and/or the appointment of analysts. The Department is currently engaging with An Garda Síochána to this end, and has requested that they reflect on these proposals and any other potential avenues for cooperation with the insurance sector, with a view to considering any proposals at the next meeting of the CIWG.
I would also like to take this opportunity to congratulate AGS on its recent success under Operation Coatee, which targets insurance-related criminality. The GNECB, supported by Lucan Garda Station, CAB and the Armed Support Units, carried out searches in the west Dublin area in April 2019, with a view to submitting files to the Director of Public Prosecutions.
The Deputy may also be interested to note that the Department of Finance issues regular quarterly updates on its website in relation to the implementation of the recommendations arising from the cost of insurance review, the latest (eighth) of which was published in March 2019.