Gardaí face testing times ahead over breathalysers

The Policing Authority report found there could be another 400,000 falsified breath tests.

A recent Policing Authority report has highlighted “a culture” within An Garda Síochána to keep breath test figures high, and is also critical of Garda management for failing to detect the scale of fake breath tests earlier and to take corrective action.

The 86-page report, conducted by auditors Crowe Horwath on behalf of the Policing Authority, has been critical of Garda management for failing to detect the scale of fake breath tests earlier and to take corrective action.

The review also includes a 10-page commentary by the Policing Authority, on both the breath test and the fixed charge notice controversies. An internal Garda report, conducted by Assistant Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan and published in early September, identified some 1.5 million fake breath tests over an eight-year period between 2009 and 2017. But that figure could now be closer to the two million mark.

He identified a range of factors, including inflation by Gardaí, IT, and recording problems, a lack of supervision, poor policy and pressure from management.

At the end of September, Policing Authority chairperson Josephine Feehily told the Oireachtas Justice Committee that the auditors had identified a “culture of expectation” within the Force. Feehily said it was likely the report would identify that a “certain performance was expected” of members with breath tests.

The auditors have conducted further work since Feehily’s appearance and had a subsequent meeting with the Garda Representative Association (GRA) which claimed its members were acting under duress.

It’s now understood that the findings of the report have developed and are more detailed — and may also highlight other issues that did not emerge in questioning at the Oireachtas Committee.

There have been calls for disciplinary action to be taken against any Garda members involved in falsified or inflating breath tests — and the O’Sullivan report has been sent to divisions for that purpose.