26 Jun 2022

40,000 'fake' breath tests recorded in Offaly's Garda Division


40,000 'fake' breath tests recorded in Offaly's Garda Division

40,000 'fake' breath tests recorded in Offaly's Garda Division

An Garda Síochána have released a regional breakdown of figures relating to the exaggeration of breath tests in Ireland in recent years, showing that almost 40,000 phantom tests were recorded by Gardaí in Laois and Offaly.

On Wednesday, An Garda Síochana issued a statement in response to the breath test controversy, after an investigation found 500,000 extra false breath tests had been recorded in addition to the huge discrepancy discovered earlier this year. in the number of tests recorded compared to the number of tests reported between June 2009 and April 2017.

The report into the controversy analysed tests actually recorded against those reported between June 2009 and April 2017, an almost eight year period.

The report flagged deficiencies in technology and data controls, resources, supervision, policy and procedures, and training as factors in the discrepancies.

A detailed geographical breakdown was also provided, which compared the number of tests recorded on the test devices, known as Drägers with the number of tests recorded on the PULSE system, the Gardaí's system of recording crime and intelligence. 

In Offaly Garda Division (Laois-Offaly), 63,292 tests were actually carried out using the in the two counties between June 2009 and April 2017 using the Dräger devices, but there were 100,752 were recorded on PULSE, a discrepancy of 37,460.

That means, that over the period in question, 398 'fake' tests were recorded by Gardaí in Laois-Offaly, despite not having been carried out on the Dräger devices. That is almost 100 (99.6) per week, nearly 20 a day. The difference between recorded tests and those actually carried out in the Division was 59%.

Pictured: An extract from the Garda report showing the extent of the breath test discrepancies

Although that is a startling figure in its own right, it is not as extraordinary as other areas. For example, in Tipperary, there was a difference of 385% in the figures recorded. The DMR (Dublin Metropolitan Region) Western had a disparity of 373%, while Meath hit 315% and Louth 213%.

Kerry had the smallest difference at 9%, while the DMR Southern area stood at 17%.

This report, spearheaded by Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan has been provided to the Minister for Justice & Equality, and the Policing Authority.

Commenting on the reports, the Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan said: "Assistant Commissioner O’Sullivan’s reports identify failures in our systems, processes, oversight, supervision and management. These failures are completely unacceptable and all of us in An Garda Síochána must now take responsibility for ensuring this cannot happen again."

"Changes have already been introduced and we are committed to ensuring the required cultural, behavioural and systems changes are made. I agree with Assistant Commissioner O’Sullivan when he writes that these failures, particularly in relation to breath tests, reflect poorly on the professionalism of the organisation and are damaging to public confidence. It is vital that An Garda Síochána continues to have the public’s confidence and support in order to carry out our work, she continued.

Following An Garda Síochána’s identification of these matters, the then Minister for Justice asked the Policing Authority to report on its oversight of these issues.

An Garda Síochána has been fully assisting Crowe Horwath, and audit, tax and business advisory firm, who were commissioned by the Policing Authority to review and assess the process employed and the outcomes of each of the investigations conducted by Assistant Commissioner O’Sullivan.

Crowe Horwath is still conducting its work into the matter.

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