204. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice the date on which she and or her officials were first informed by the Garda Commissioner in view of a statutory obligations under section 41 of the An Garda Síochána Act 2005 to inform her of such matters without delay of the cancellation and or downgrading of computer-aided despatch and 999 calls in the first instance and further matters disclosed by the Policing Authority on 14 October 2021. [51667/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): As the Deputy will be aware, I consider any inappropriate cancellation of 999 calls a very serious matter. This falls significantly below the high standards that the public expect from the Gardaí and the high standards that An Garda Síochána set for themselves. I am particularly concerned that anyone experiencing domestic abuse, or indeed anyone in a vulnerable position, who summoned the courage to seek assistance may not have received it.
I can inform the Deputy that the Secretary General of my Department was first informed of this issue by An Garda Síochána by letter dated 4 December 2020. After some discussion with An Garda Síochána, the Policing Authority was asked by Minister McEntee on 5 February to oversee the review being carried by An Garda Síochána in relation to this matter, and there have been a number of engagements between the Authority and An Garda Síochána since this date.
I share the Authority’s concern about the continuation of what appears to be inappropriate cancellation and classification of calls since the introduction of the new procedures. These circumstances will of course be considered by the Authority as part of their continuing oversight of the Garda review of this matter, and will be taken into account in the work being carried out by an external policing expert who has been appointed by the Policing Authority to assist them in this task.
In respect of the matters disclosed by the Policing Authority on 14 October 2021, the Deputy Garda Commissioner informed my Department on 3 September that further cancellations had taken place and that mitigation measures were being put in place to prevent such cancellations from continuing. The Deputy Commissioner also informed my Department that a senior Garda officer was conducting an investigation as a matter of urgency.