An investigation into how almost one million false breath tests were recorded on An Garda Síochána computer systems has discovered another 500,000 false tests that were also recorded but not carried out.
A report by Assistant Garda Commissioner Michael O’Sullivan, which has yet to be published, has found that some gardaí were making up the figures and in some cases were exaggerating them by as much as 300%.
The report also identified systems and IT failures, a misinterpretation of policy, and failures of governance and oversight as contributory issues.
Mr O’Sullivan has concluded that the controversy reflects poorly on the professionalism of the organisation and has undermined public confidence in the police service.
However Mr O’Sullivan’s report has now established that the figure is over 1.4 million, more than half a million more than originally believed, although this was over a seven-year period dating back to 2009.
The report identified IT and systems failures, failures of governance, oversight and supervision, and a misinterpretation of policy both at station level and at the Garda Information Services Centre in Castlebar, where the figures are also recorded.
It also established that individual gardaí were simply making up the figures, and in some cases there was gross exaggeration.
For example, the report highlights an incident where a garda contacts the centre in Castlebar to report a figure from a MAT (Mandatory Alcohol Test) checkpoint.
When asked how many checks he conducted he hesitates and first says 30. He then changes that to 50, before finally telling the operator to ‘put him down for 90’.
The breath test report also points out the controls that are now in place to prevent a recurrence of such failures.