Earlier this week, PARC Road Safety Group launched their General Election Manifesto asking for candidates to commit to ten main issues surrounding road safety. One of these is the more efficient usage (and investment) in fit-for-purpose Information Technology Infrastructure which would aid all agencies involved in implementing Road Safety legislation. Deputy Broughan is a long-standing supporter of PARC’s work and has worked with them to ensure that Road Safety improvements are firmly on the agenda in Dáil Éireann and with the respective Ministers responsible for road safety.

Deputy Broughan requested information from the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald, regarding the amount of monies spent by An Garda Síochána on IT in the years 2012 to 2015 and the linkages with the Court Service and the Road Safety Authority. The reply received by Deputy Broughan shows that expenditure on IT has more than doubled in four years from €18,074,943 in 2012 to €37,251,075 in 2015.

The reply from Minister Fitzgerald confirms that “Under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 the Garda Commissioner is responsible for controlling the general management and administration of the Service within the context of agreed annual policing plans” which “includes the procurement and maintenance of various technologies utilised to manage the Service, and support front-line Gardaí and intelligence-led operations against organised crime”.

Minister Fitzgerald states that “the total expenditure incurred under the Information Technology Subhead of the Garda Vote” from 2012 to 2015 inclusive is as follows:

Year    Expenditure €

2012   18,074,943

2013   19,451,075

2014   24,532,483

2015   37,251,075

The reply states that “the Criminal Justice Integration Project (CJIP) provides for the electronic exchange of records via secure data link between the District Courts and An Garda Síochána. There are approximately 2.5 million electronic records exchanged annually using CJIP which include summons applications, District Court outcomes, warrants and bail”. The Minister goes on to say that that Gardaí “receive regular electronic updates via a secure data link with the National Vehicle File and National Driver File from the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Road Safety Authority. In turn An Garda Síochána electronically provide details of paid fixed charge offences to the Department of Transport, Tourism and Sport and the Road Safety Authority in respect of the application of penalty points to driver licence records”. Finally, the reply states that the Gardaí also “provide road collision data electronically via secure data link to the Road Safety Authority to assist with road safety research and analysis”.

Deputy Broughan said “In a reply received on December 15th 2015 to another question I raised with the Minister for Justice she stated that the “Courts Service has advised that there is no project underway to electronically record the non-production of a licence in court” yet we know that manually recording of licence numbers is not happening 100% of the time (indeed in the case of drink-driving convictions between January 2013 and March 2015 just 20% of licence numbers were recorded) so a more efficient method is required. Surely in this age of technological advances it is possible to have a fit-for-purpose integrated database/information sharing programme for road traffic offences. €37 million is not an unsubstantial sum and the next Government must ensure to work with the Garda Commissioner to ensure that taxpayers money is being used to fund the best possible IT infrastructure necessary for our law enforcement, Courts System and Road Safety Authority.”