Oireachtas Joint and Select Committees
Thursday, 8 February 2024
Public Accounts Committee
Financial Statements 2022 - Garda Síochána Ombudsman Commission
Mr. Peter Whelan:
There is a list of things that might happen in any one case. As Mr. Hume said earlier, the legislation requires us to complete a criminal investigation and then we might decide that there is no criminal case to answer. Only then can we transition into a disciplinary investigation. That takes an inordinate amount of time. The opposite is also true. If we start a disciplinary investigation and find a criminal offence, we have to finish the disciplinary investigation before we can proceed. In the new legislation, we will have a single investigative process, so that will help.
Another issue we have is waiting for information. The information may come from many sources so we sometimes have to wait, along with An Garda Síochána, for long periods. In the majority of cases where we look for information, it comes back reasonably quickly. However, in a small number of cases - and those may be the cases we see extended out - we are either waiting for information or we have had difficulties engaging with the complainants, the member or solicitors. There may be a coroner's inquest or we may be waiting on the DPP's decision or that of the court. Often the court will extend the time in which a case will be concluded. Digital downloads can also take quite an amount of time. That is why we have now formed our own digital investigations unit.