The Minister for Justice and Equality, Mr Charlie Flanagan, T.D., has noted the publication by the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission (GSOC) of their report on their investigation of Fixed Charge Notice Cancellations 2009-2014.
Arising from concerns about the widespread cancellation of fixed charge notices the matter was considered so serious that the Minister’s predecessors made referrals to GSOC under section 102 (5) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 for investigation.
In their final report GSOC point out that the Fixed Charge Penalty System (FCPS) has already been the subject of a high level of scrutiny. This has resulted in significant changes to the system and the introduction of an Oversight Authority. In the circumstances GSOC have concluded that further investigation of cases going back some eight years is now very unlikely to provide positive outcomes and GSOC considers that the costs of proceeding with the investigation would not be the best use of public money. GSOC believe that the ongoing and continuous improvements to the FCPS would be better suited to improving public confidence.
GSOC is an independent statutory body. GSOC has indicated to the Minister that, for the reasons set out in their report, they have decided to discontinue their investigation.
Speaking today, Minister Flanagan said “GSOC undertook significant work in seeking to progress a comprehensive investigation of these matters in the public interest. However, at the conclusion of a three year investigative process, GSOC, having considered the likely benefit to public confidence in continuing with the investigation against the cost of doing so, has concluded that the significant costs involved are excessive and not in the public interest. This conclusion was also arrived at in the context of dramatic change in the procedures for the cancellation of fixed charge notices, the appointment by the Government of Judge Matthew Deery as the Oversight Authority for the Fixed Charge Processing System, taken with the passage of time since the events which gave rise to the investigation.
Clearly bearing in mind GSOC’s statutory independence, the decision on whether the investigation should be discontinued is one that only GSOC can make. I accept the conclusions drawn in the report that continuing the investigation further would not be in the public interest in light of the continuing progress and oversight of the Fixed Charge Penalty System. A more robust system of supervision and continuous improvement would better serve to instil public confidence, as the report indicates.”
The Minister went on to say “We have made significant and extensive reforms to the processing and oversight of requests for cancellation of penalty points. I am satisfied that we have a very robust process in place and this is reaffirmed by Judge Deery’s finding of substantial compliance.”
The Minister concluded by thanking the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission for their valuable work in this regard.