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AGS conflicts-of-interest policy due next year

16 Sep 2022 / policing Print

AGS conflicts-of-interest policy due next year

The Department of Justice has published a plan setting out how recommendations aimed at preventing internal corruption in an Garda Síochána (AGS) will be implemented.

A report by the Garda Inspectorate on the issue, published last year, contained 34 recommendations.

Three were directed at the Department of Justice, one at the Department of Transport and 30 at AGS.

The proposals covered areas such as professional boundaries, conflicts of interest, the abuse of power for sexual gain, and substance testing.

Anti-corruption policy

The implementation plan has been developed jointly by the force and the department.

The department said that the new Garda Anti-Corruption Unit has already made “significant progress” on addressing some of the recommendations, and that clear timelines have been set out for those that are outstanding.

AGS has so far published an overarching anti-corruption policy, as well as separate policies on professional boundaries, abuse of power for sexual gain, and substance misuse.

The plan suggests that a policy on conflicts of interest should be approved during the second quarter of 2023.

A policy on business interests and secondary occupations of garda members is due to be approved in the third quarter of next year, according to the timeline, but a requirement that family and friends of gardaí declare their commercial interests has not been accepted.

Recommendations for department

The department, however, will need to be involved in the implementation of some recommendations, especially in relation to legislation.

The plan says that the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill currently being drafted will address recommendations on intelligence-sharing and external investigation.

The three recommendations aimed at the department have been accepted in full, and it says that “actions have been developed” to implement them. The three are:

  • To develop a strategic understanding of the risk of internal corruption across the criminal- justice sector,
  • To carry out a review of post-employment activities of the AGS workforce, and develop suitable rules and processes to reduce the risk of any conflicts of interest arising after they leave the organisation,
  • To implement the necessary statutory framework to ensure that all instances of conduct linked to sexual violence or abuse of power for sexual gain are referred for independent investigation.

Fixed-charge penalties

The Department of Transport is carrying out a review of the statutory framework on the emergency exemption from the fixed-charge penalty system given to gardaí. This is expected to be completed by the end of this year.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said that the vast majority of AGS members served the State with integrity, but added that the unique nature of policing meant that it was open to the threat of corruption.

“Any wrongdoing or corruption within policing damages the integrity and morale of officers and staff alike and undermines public confidence in police services,” she added.

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