Belfast Telegraph

Garda refuses to say how many of its officers have a criminal conviction

Calls have been made for greater transparency from the Garda after the force refused to disclose how many of its officers hold a criminal conviction.

The organisation said the information was "personal" and that it would not be in the public interest to disclose it.

The Press Association had asked the Garda, under the Freedom of Information Act, for the number of gardai who have been convicted of a crime since 2016, as well as details of the crimes and disciplinary action taken.

The Garda, however, has refused to provide the information, leading to demands from a member of the Oireachtas Justice Committee for greater transparency from the force.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland and other police forces across the UK and Wales have all previously released information about the number of officers with criminal records.

Fianna Fail TD Jack Chambers said there must be openness and transparency within the force.

"The public has a right to know how many gardai have criminal convictions.

"It is about being open and transparent. As long as the information is disclosed carefully there should be no reason for it to be withheld," said Mr Chambers.

He added: "There should be a transparent release of figures like this, just as there is from other police forces.

"I think it is important that as the pace of reform continues within the organisation that there is openness and transparency."

Responding to the Press Association's request the Garda said that a search was conducted in the disciplinary section of human resources to identify the records sought.

Upon reviewing the records however, it was deemed to be "personal information" and should not therefore be disclosed.

The force added that "the public interest in preserving the personal information and the reasonable expectation that information can be maintained in a confidential manner by An Garda Siochana in the context of its disciplinary proceedings outweighs the public interest which would be served were the records released."

It also claimed that to disclose the information would "constitute a breach of a duty of confidence" and added "it would be unconscionable for this organisation, engaged in processes involved in alleged breaches of discipline, not to treat the information relating to the process as confidential".


From Belfast Telegraph