Speaking in the wake of the Policing Authority’s report into the excess of 200,000 unanswered calls, Sinn Féin TD for Clare, Violet-Anne Wynne, has criticised the ongoing mishandling of the incidents.
Teachta Wynne said:
“Ever since the news broke that there had been several thousand unanswered domestic violence calls to 999 earlier this year, I smelt a rat.
“I feared, and this interim report has confirmed that this is symptomatic of a deeper, structural and systemic issue.
“All of the national advocacy groups have been warning throughout the pandemic that domestic violence has been rising and correlated to lockdowns.
“Women’s Aid, Safe Ireland and, locally, Clare Haven Services have all been shouting from the rooftops that women are more exposed than ever to domestic abuse.
“An Garda SIochána should have been extra vigilant during these unprecedented times, but instead we find out that more than 200,000 calls were cancelled over a two-year period between 2019 and 2020.
“The report outlines that there were multiple issues in the mix. These included policies and procedures that were not correctly implemented; training that misrepresented the inappropriateness of cancelling calls; the avoidance of follow-ups; and the misrecording of details where Gardaí were dispatched to the wrong locations and couldn’t call the original caller back for clarification.
“The fact that members of An Garda Síochána felt that these calls were unimportant, then felt entitled enough to not respond accordingly and, furthermore, felt confident that their lack of follow-up would go unnoticed is highly concerning.
“I questioned Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on this issue at Clare’s Joint Policing Committee meeting in October and he was quick to dismiss it by reassuring me that there were ‘less than 30 calls’ originating from Clare. This answer simply isn’t good enough.
“It is also noteworthy that Mr Harris was quick to attribute at least partial blame to the force’s antiquated computer-aided dispatch (CAD) system, but the report rejects this claim.
“I will be following up the red flags highlighted in this report with the Minister for Justice, and will seek to ensure that the 25 findings and 13 recommendations are taken seriously by this Cabinet and acted on accordingly.
“An urgent review is 100% necessary, and I will be calling for it.”