GSOC’s main area of responsibility is to deal with complaints concerning garda conduct. Each year, over 2,000 formal complaints are opened, containing over 5,000 allegations of garda misconduct (because there can be several allegations in one complaint). This section explains the most common matters about which people complain and gives examples based on real cases.
There are several ways which complaints can be investigated. These are explained in Complaint investigation types and examples based on real cases are given.
Independent investigations following referral from the Garda Síochána
A separate area of responsibility for GSOC is to conduct investigations, following referral by the Garda Síochána, in circumstances where it appears that the conduct of a garda may have resulted in the death of, or serious harm to, a person. This is so that the public can be confident that there is independence in the investigation of such circumstances.
Public Interest Investigations
The Garda Ombudsman may investigate matters in relation to the conduct of gardaí, when it is in the public interest, even if a complaint has not been received. (Section 102 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005, as amended, provides for this.)
The Ombudsman Commission may decide to open such an investigation itself, or may be requested to do so by the Policing Authority or by the Minister for Justice and Equality. Following amendments in 2016, the Policing Authority or the Minister may also refer a matter for the Commission to consider whether it should investigate it in the public interest.
The sections to the left explain more about these investigations and summaries of closed investigations following referrals are given.