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High percentage of fixed charges terminated in Clare

By CAROL BYRNE

CLARE Garda District registered the highest percentage termination of fixed charge notices in 2012, and was a close second for 2011, according to a report of the Garda Siochána Inspectorate into the fixed charge processing system.

Meanwhile the largest percentage termination of fixed charge notices in the country occurred in Kilrush in 2012 when 9.64% of the notices here were terminated.

On 4 July 2013, the Minister for Justice and Equality requested the Garda Inspectorate to commence an inspection of the Garda Síochána fixed charge processing system and make recommendations they deemed appropriate.

The report, which was released recently, is the result of this examination of policy and practices for the fixed charge system and makes recommendations for short, medium, and long term.

In the report the professional standards unit gave a breakdown of the number of fixed charge notices issued by each garda division across the country in 2011 and 2012, and of those how many were terminated.

In County Clare the report highlighted that 16,222 fixed charge notices were issued in the county for 2011, of those 1,051 were terminated, accounting for a percentage of 6.47%. Meanwhile in 2012, a total of 14,835 fixed charge notices were issued in Clare, with 989 terminated, accounting for 6.66%.

Clare was the only county to maintain above 6% in the termination of fixed charge notices across 2011 and 2012.

However in 2011, the Galway district registered the highest percentage at 6.69%.

The statistics also reveal that within the county and the country the highest percentage termination of fixed charge notices occurred in Kilrush in 2012 when 9.64% of the fixed charge notices issued there were terminated. The second highest percentage termination in County Clare occurred in Killaloe in 2011 with the termination of 7.98% of the fixed charge notices issued here.

In its findings the Inspectorate found in its analysis of the reports of the Assistant Commissioner and the Comptroller and Auditor General that there were consistent and widespread breaches of policy by those charged with administering the system. With few exceptions, the Inspectorate found no meaningful evidence of consistent quality management supervision of the cancellation process either at Garda headquarters, regional, divisional, district or any level that would have detected and rectified these problems.

During the inspection, it became clear to the Inspectorate that the correction of the inefficiencies identified is not just a matter for the Garda Síochána alone.

“The system by its nature requires strategic coordination of all the agencies involved…Nothing short of significant collaborative change, involving all system stakeholders will bring this complex and resource-intensive system into the 21st Century,” the report noted.

The Inspectorate recommended a holistic approach to overhaul the entire system to  bring it in line with international best practice standards of efficiency and effectiveness.

“The Inspectorate is mindful of the demands on the Garda Síochána and the challenge of widespread change at a time of scarce resources. It is for this reason that the recommendations made in this report are divided into those which are achievable now, and those which provide a progressive road map for the ultimate development of a modern fit for purpose efficient and effective fixed charge processing system,” the report notes.

Also outlined in the report, the Inspectorate made twelve recommendations to restructure the cancellation process. It found that the system was fraught with “wasteful use of garda and other stakeholder resources in administering the system”. The Inspectorate also highlighted that it “was told by senior garda staff, that but for the public scrutiny, the extent of the deficiencies within the fixed charge processing system would not have been detected”.

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