Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 24 September 2020
Public Accounts Committee
Business of Committee
Mr. Seamus McCarthy:
We have found that paucity of information on strikeouts and reported on it on a couple of occasions. One of the difficulties we have found is that there is a limit to the amount of work we can do within the courts system. We do not make recommendations as to what judges should do and so on. One idea that has been there for a number of years is that there be a unified system from An Garda Síochána through to court cases and on into the prison system in order that there would better quality information available. In the past the systems have not spoken to one another. They have had all sorts of different numbering systems. The Garda has one case number, a court case has another number, and then the service of convictions follows another numbering system. There has been an idea that the justice system should develop a unified system to track any offence through.
As for recording the reasons, I would certainly be in favour of understanding more about why strikeouts happen. As Deputies have said, the reason a case may be struck out can be an inefficiency on the Garda side in prosecuting it, the judge may be left with no option, or it may be a direction of the court. To understand even those basic questions, we could start looking at the process more within An Garda Síochána if that is where the problem is or if there is some kind of technicality in the law that is causing the strikeouts. We have recommended and favoured that there be better quality information. I think it could lead to better administration and better use of funds.