However the very possibility of forming a special unit as part of the Garda’s Economic Crime Bureau has been played down in favour of examining such cases as part of the more traditional general fraud approach.
In response to queries about the possibility of setting up such a unit from Drinks Industry Ireland, the Garda Press Office stated, “As publicly stated recently, Garda Commissioner Drew Harris has stated there are no plans to establish such unit at this time”.
Thus a nationwide network is unlikely to be seen in the near future given recent cuts in operational spend, it seems.
“We would warmly welcome the establishment of a Garda Insurance Coordination Unit,” Peter Boland of the Alliance for Insurance Reform, told Drinks Industry Ireland, “I think it makes absolute sense, particularly in the context of the Divisional Fraud Unit approach being favoured by the Commissioner. But we must demand at this stage that the Government provide funding for this unit in light of the fact that the Commissioner is currently cutting back on operational spend. There’s not a chance of this being funded out of the current operational Garda Budgets. It needs to be funded specifically by Government to get it up-and-running”.
The VFI too welcomed the news that a special insurance fraud co-ordination unit could be established within the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau, based at Harcourt Street, Dublin.
At present individuals making bogus claims do not face any repercussions for making false allegations against businesses.
However while welcoming the possibility of such an Insurance Fraud Unit VFI Chief Executive Padraig Cribben says he’s concerned that its establishment might be subject to An Garda receiving extra resources.
“The need for a Garda Insurance Unit has been obvious for many years,” he stated recently, “The fact that people can make false claims knowing they will not face consequences has only encouraged more individuals and groups to pursue what they view as ‘easy money’.
“An Insurance Fraud Unit will send a strong message that suspected false claims will be vetted by An Garda.
“Given the unit’s importance in tackling insurance fraud we would urge government to allocate the required resources immediately to allow the unit commence its vital work,” he concluded.
The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau had earlier promised a clampdown on those involved in bogus insurance claims.
According to the report in the Irish Independent, Gardaí are planning “super raids” in the same way they’ve targeted travelling burglary gangs in recent years, with solicitors’ offices to be targeted as part of the move against false claimants.
According to the report, “The idea is to vet and assess false injury claims and then send them back to the divisions. But this new unit will not be put in place without additional resources.
“This is a further development from a recent announcement that bogus claims were to be tackled at divisional level within the force.
“Gardaí are known to be concerned about false claims made after incidents ranging from bogus slips and trips to staged car crashes often involving groups of people claiming for faked injuries.”
The report concluded that, “Most groups believe the Government is not doing enough to tackle the issue”.