Belfast Telegraph

Penalty points 'need investigation'

An internal Garda probe into the wiping of penalty points has found almost a sixth of points need "further investigation", the force has said.

After the penalty points scandal in recent years, the Garda's Professional Standards Unit was ordered to carry out its own inquiry into the system.

In a report handed to the Cabinet today, it found 114 of the 667 sample cases it looked at needed to be investigated further.

The majority of these were issued before an overhaul of the system last June. However, seven cases happened after the new rules were brought in.

On the back of the report, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has appointed a judge, Matthew Deery, as an independent watchdog for the issuing and wiping of penalty points.

The Director of Public Prosecutions will be asked to investigate claims of gardai having points cleared because they were on official business in their own cars.

Ms Fitzgerald said the report uncovers issues of "considerable concern".

"There will be no hiding place for members of the public or of An Garda Siochana if they seek to abuse the system," she added.

Just under 400,000 penalty points were issued in 2013.

A study last summer showed around 4% were wiped.

Judge Deery will act as Independent Oversight Authority for the fixed charge processing system.

The former president of the Circuit Court will be able to inspect at random any fixed charge notice cancellation and report his findings to the minister.

"This is not only in the broad public interest but is also in the best interests of the overwhelming majority of gardai," said Ms Fitzgerald.

The internal report is being referred to the Garda Ombudsman.


From Belfast Telegraph