Dáil Éireann - Volume 598 - 22 February, 2005

Written Answers. - Garda Complaints Procedures.

  312. Mr. F. McGrath asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the procedures open to victims of crime who are not satisfied with the Garda investigation of their case; if he will seek further clarification, support, advice and assistance to ensure that truth and justice prevails; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5854/05]

  Mr. McDowell:If a person is not happy with [473] the conduct of a member of the Garda Síochána, it is open to him or her to make a complaint to the Garda Síochána Complaints Board. The Garda Síochána Complaints Board is currently the statutory body to investigate complaints by members of the public against the Garda. A complaint can be made by writing or by calling to its offices.

A complaint can also be made at any Garda station, and it will be forwarded to the board for attention unless the person indicates in writing that he or she wishes it to be dealt with by the Garda Síochána itself. The Minister cannot pass on a complaint to the board on anyone’s behalf as it is a condition of the relevant legislation that the person concerned must make the complaint in one of the ways described. The board is not empowered to deal with complaints not lodged within six months of the date of the incident.

The board’s offices are located at Block 1, Irish Life Centre, Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1, telephone No. 01-878 7526.

I understand from the Garda authorities that procedures put in place in relation to the victims of crime — which are set out in the Garda Charter for Victims of Crime — provide that the Garda will inform victims, where a suspect is charged, of the time, date and location of the court hearing of the charges against the accused. Victims who are not satisfied with the investigation of their case or have inquiries, suggestions or feedback on any aspect of treatment of the victims of crime by any member of the Garda Síochána may contact the Victim Liaison Officer, Community Relations Section, Harcourt Square, Harcourt Street, Dublin 2. (01) 6663802 or their local superintendent.

I can further inform the Deputy that provision for victims is made by a number of Government agencies as well as non-governmental organisations. The rights and entitlements of victims of crime in Ireland are set out in the Victims Charter, published by my Department in 1999, following extensive consultations with all relevant agencies including the courts, Garda Síochána, the Prison Service, the probation and welfare service, the State prosecution service and the Victim Support organisation. Victim Support provides support to victims of crime and their families through a network of volunteers nationwide. My Department has provided funding for its administrative and staff costs amounting to €5.3 million in the five years up to the end of 2004.

The charter makes specific provision for particularly vulnerable victims such as victims of sexual offences, domestic violence, elderly victims with disabilities, and children. It also contains specific provisions on keeping victims informed of the outcome of their complaints, the progress of any criminal proceedings, and the outcome of these proceedings.

It is my intention to arrange for a review of the provisions of the Victims Charter in the near future, in order to ensure its continuing relevance [474] and effectiveness in providing for crime victims. As well as administrative and other provisions, the review will critically examine the deployment of resources to ensure that they continue to deliver maximum effectiveness as well as value for money.

The review will also have regard to the EU framework decision of 15 March 2001 on the standing of victims in criminal proceedings, which sets out to harmonise the treatment of victims of crime across the EU, to ensure that Ireland continues to meet its commitments in that regard.