Stand­off over Garda abuse fig­ures

■ CSO in deep in­ves­ti­ga­tion of qual­ity of Pulse crime records

Irish Examiner - - Front Page - Cor­mac O’Ke­effe

A stand­off be­tween the Cen­tral Sta­tis­tics Of­fice and An Garda Síochána over the record­ing of do­mes­tic abuse in­ci­dents shows no sign of end­ing.

The CSO is con­duct­ing a de­tailed ex­am­i­na­tion this year of the record­ing of do­mes­tic abuse in­ci­dents by gar­daí to de­ter­mine if the data is re­li­able.

The CSO also said it is “un­clear” when it will be able to re­sume pub­lish­ing Garda crime sta­tis­tics af­ter it post­poned pub­li­ca­tion — over con­cerns on homi­cide fig­ures — for a third time at the end of De­cem­ber, but planned to pub­lish again in the first half of 2018.

As re­ported in the Ir­ish Ex­am­iner last May, the CSO con­cluded that it can not stand over Ga rd a do­mes­tic vi­o­lence fig­ures af­ter con­duct­ing an anal­y­sis and rec­om­mended that a num­ber of mea­sures be taken.

The CSO said its qual­ity re­port on do­mes­tic abuse data will be “quite an ar­du­ous process” and in­volve ex­am­i­na­tion of Pulse com­puter records and pa­per records to de­ter­mine if do­mes­tic abuse is recorded as such.

There have been long-run­ning con­cerns in this area, high­lighted in par­tic­u­lar in the Ga rd a In­spec­torate’ s land­mark Crime In­ves­ti­ga­tion re­port in Novem­ber 2014, which found that 45% of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence calls to gar­daí were not recorded on the Pulse sys­tem.

Last May, the CSO said it con­ducted an anal­y­sis of Garda do­mes­tic vi­o­lence data go­ing back six years and con­cluded they were “not suf­fi­ciently ro­bust” to be pub­lished.

Olive Lough­nane of the CSO Crime Sec­tion said they will con­duct an ex­am­i­na­tion of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence data this year.

“We will be ex­am­in­ing it as part of our qual­ity re­port, in what is now called do­mes­tic abuse to re­flect that it does not nec­es­sar­ily in­volve phys­i­cal vi­o­lence,” said Ms Lough­nane. “We will look at the data from 2017 and look at the progress of the is­sues we raised.”

She said it will in­volve “trawl­ing” through records on Pulse and pa­per, adding that the re­port should be fin­ished by Septem­ber.

Ms Lough­nane said there is a box on Pulse for ‘MO’ and that do­mes­tic vi­o­lence can be put into that — but said the is­sue is gar­daí are not sure when to put that in.

“To count some­thing, peo­ple need to know what they are sup­posed to be count­ing,” she said.

Ms Lough­nane said is­sues raised with gar­daí in­clude “clar­ity over what con­sti­tutes do­mes­tic abuse” and the need for “on­go­ing mon­i­tor­ing” of the qual­ity of data.

She said there have been im­prove­ments with Pulse and that the im­mi­nent hir­ing of a Garda data qual­ity of­fi­cer “should make a big dif­fer­ence”.

A Garda spokesman said a pi­lot scheme is on­go­ing where all in­ci­dents — in­clud­ing do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and sex­ual abuse — are clas­si­fied on Pulse at the Garda In­for­ma­tion Ser­vice Cen­tre (GISC) and not by in­di­vid­ual gar­daí.

“In ad­di­tion, there is a data qual­ity re­view team in GISC to en­sure that in­ci­dents are be­ing clas­si­fied cor­rectly,” said the spokesman.

“Two re­gions have been in­volved in the pi­lot — the North and the West — and it is ex­pected that all re­gions will come un­der this process by the end of the year.”

Gar­daí also pro­duced a do­mes­tic abuse in­ter­ven­tion pol­icy 2017 last July. The spokesman said this pol­icy pro­vides “di­rec­tion to mem­bers on clas­si­fy­ing do­mes­tic abuse in­ci­dents on Pulse” and that train­ing of mem­bers is in progress.

Ms Lough­nane said the CSO also in­tends to pub­lish the gen­eral Garda crime data in the first six months of this year. It last pub­lished quar­terly data in March 2017 and has since post­poned pub­lish­ing three times — in June, Septem­ber, and De­cem­ber.

She said it is “un­clear when ex­actly” they will be able to pub­lish the data, but plan to do so ei­ther in March or June. The de­lay re­lates to CSO con­cerns on homi­cide fig­ures as well as an in­ter­nal Garda re­view.

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