High Level Review Group on the Role of An Garda Síochána in Public Prosecutions
07 February 2024
The Director of Public Prosecutions, Ms. Catherine Pierse, welcomes today’s publication of the final report of the High Level Review Group (HLRG) on the Role of An Garda Síochána (AGS) in the Public Prosecution System, saying:
“Representatives from my Office participated on the Review Group which made wide ranging recommendations aimed at supporting a consistently high standard of prosecution service in District Courts nationwide.
I am keenly conscious of the work that members of An Garda Síochána do in District Courts around the country to prosecute cases in the name of the DPP. It is fundamental to the administration of justice that members of the public can have confidence that this summary prosecution service is delivered in a way that is independent, fair and effective.
I look forward to working with Niamh O’Donoghue, former Secretary General of the Department of Social Protection – today named as Chair of the Summary Prosecution Reform Steering Committee – and our criminal justice partners to implement the recommendations of the Group and to ensure that this important summary prosecution work is fully supported.”
Note for Editors:
The report of the High Level Review Group on the Role of An Garda Síochána in the Public Prosecution System recommends a reform model which is outlined on page 79 of the report. From the Office of the DPP’s (ODPP) perspective, it is envisaged that this will involve:
“AGS retain responsibility for the presentation of prosecutions at court, to be supported by enhanced oversight and training from the ODPP.
The DPP will use the available data and information to identify any additional types of cases that should be submitted to the office for a decision on whether to initiate a prosecution and/or provide legal representation in the District Courts both in Dublin and outside Dublin where appropriate and seek resourcing for this.
The DPP will consider how best to support the prosecution service across the country to give effect to the prosecution of additional types of cases by the Director.
DPP oversight of the exercise of prosecutions functions by AGS in its name to be substantially enhanced. This could include mandatory case sampling, record keeping, statistic gathering and publication, and regular structured auditing.
More transparency and consistency around the categories of District Court cases to be prosecuted by the ODPP”
The issue of consistency across the country is addressed in various parts of the report, including at page 85 where the report recommends that the ODPP “be supported in considering whether certain categories of District Court cases should be prosecuted directly by the ODPP/State Solicitors instructed by the Director, to ensure consistency and taking into account the complexity of prosecuting certain offences across the country”.
The report goes on to propose a high level implementation plan (pg. 89) “to support collaboration and co-operation between the two pillar stakeholders, AGS and ODPP” in taking forward implementation of the reform model. It proposes the following steps:
“1. Establishment of a Summary Prosecution Reform Steering Committee (SPRSC)
2. Review of AGS and the Courts Service data for selected categories of offences
3. Review of current guidelines and training in place relevant to Garda prosecution function.
4. Small scale, low/no tech sampling
5. Identifying and extracting relevant data from Garda and the Courts Service systems
6. Look for ‘ad hoc’ automation opportunities
7. Full automation and visibility.”
The final report of the High Level Review Group on the Role of An Garda Síochána in the Public Prosecution System can be read in full here >>> HLRG on the Role of An Garda Síochána in the Public Prosecution System.