Wednesday 14 November 2018

Call for gardai to show more empathy to crime victims

By Maria Pepper

A Wexford councillor has asked whether gardai undergo an 'empathy course' to help them in their dealings with the public.

Cllr. George Lawlor underlined the importance of gardai having a sympathetic approach in their interaction with people.

'A Garda may be interviewing someone who has been burgled and may have dealt with 10 similar cases recently to the point where they have become immune to the sensitivities of the victims,' he said.

'Any interaction I have had with the gardai has been excellent but the odd time you come across a member who mightn't be as sensitive as they should be in terms of interaction.'

'In relation to victims of crime, is there an ongoing training programme,' Cllr. Lawlor asked.

Chief Superintendent John Roche said that as with all jobs you may come across someone who is not as sympathetic as the next person. All gardai receive training in Templemore on how to deal with the public.

'When they come here it is re-inforced - you treat people the way you would like to be treated yourself,' he said.

Cllr. Lawlor said he knew of a case in which someone made a complaint of historic sexual assault and received an impersonal letter stamped with a signature telling him the DPP had decided there would be no prosecution.

'It seems harsh particilarly in a case like that to receive a letter like that'.

Chief Superintendent Roche said he agreed. 'It comes in the letter box like junk mail. I agree that a personal phone call would have been better'.

He said the gardai are working on crime classification and how people should be treated in different cases. 'We have changed the culture and it's working', he told the meeting.

JPC member Paul Walsh said there is a greater emphasis on victims' rights not just in relation to An Garda Siochána but the entire justice system as a result of the Victims Rights Directive which aims to improve the rights, support, protection and participation of victims in criminal proceedings.

'It is a work in hand and it is getting better,' he said.

Cllr. David Hynes said he was involved in a victim support group in Wexford and people would often say they felt the gardai treated the parents of drug users as if they were the guilty party when a son or daughter had gone off the rails.

Wexford People

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