Garda analysts were ‘undermined’ over homicide recording system concerns
Analysts say they were pressured to sign off on a review of the force’s Pulse IT system.
Two Garda data analysts said they were undermined after raising significant concerns about the misrecording of homicides.
Efforts were made to “erode confidence” in the findings of a sample Lois West and a colleague reviewed from 2014, that showed inaccuracies with the force’s Pulse recording system meant some killings were not registered as crimes.
Twelve deaths out of 41 have been reclassified on the 20-year-old IT database after problems were discovered.
The issues raised by members of the Garda Analysis Unit around the review of domestic homicides are deeply concerning and we thank both Lois West and Laura Galligan for bringing these to light. Read our full statement here https://t.co/VmyycnHcr4— Women's Aid Ireland (@Womens_Aid) March 7, 2018
Ms West said: “Our integrity, both professional and personal, was undermined and attacked.”
Records on the inadequate Pulse had not been updated but that did not mean cases had been improperly investigated, a senior officer previously told the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Justice and Equality.
Ms West told the Committee she and her fellow witness, senior crime and policy analyst Laura Galligan, believed bad underlying data quality led to bad analysis.
The Garda’s deputy head of analysis added: “We were concerned about the accuracy and worth of data and to have ignored the concerns would have been to have ignored our own ethics and professional standards.”
Very significant pressures was brought to bear on them to sign off on a review which they felt did not address their worries, she said.
Those included gardai not filling in fields in the IT system, particularly surrounding hate and domestic crimes.
Our integrity, both professional and personal, was undermined and attacked Lois West, Garda deputy head of analysis.
The analyst added: “There is a lack of consistency in completing those fields and I would say that in a majority of cases they are just not filled out at all.
“We are really scientists that use data and these are the fields we would use to aggregate data to look at trends.”
There was an organisational culture where it was acceptable to record a homicide as a sudden death non-crime, Ms West said, until an investigation had progressed and direction was received from the DPP to treat it as homicide.
Pulse may or may not be updated at that stage.
Ms West added: “There was pressure to agree that everything was fine.”
These are very concerning levels of dysfunction at an organisational level Jack Chambers TD
When they raised issues they were asked how would they have wanted policies to be worded.
The analyst said: “This was about the concerns we had in relation to public confidence, reputational damage, we never at any stage wanted any of it to be personal or anything else.
“We just wanted to try to resolve the issues.”
She said their voices were not being heard.
“Our views really were not taken seriously enough.”
After making personal representations she said they saw small flurries of activity and meetings, but that never tended to last.
Only in recent weeks did it receive the attention it deserved, Ms West added.
Jack Chambers TD said: “These are very concerning levels of dysfunction at an organisational level.
“Clearly there is a mismatch between what is being pronounced publicly and what is happening behind closed doors.”