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Hamilton Review recommends gardaí should be given access to passwords for electronic devices

DUBLIN: The James Hamilton review reports that the gardai and other agencies investigating corruption, fraud, and economic crimes need to be “empowered” with more powers and resources. There should be innovative legislation for this. The report also recommends that gardaí should be given access by law to passwords for electronic devices. They should have the power to interrogate and detain suspects. The report also says that legislation should be amended to deal with the ethical violations of former Oireachtas members.

Ireland is a small country but the fifth largest economy in Europe, the report said. Everyone is moving into the digital age and everyone is doing everything online, and this increases the risk of fraud. Ireland has grown into a European international hub for financial services. Irish-based companies handle funds worth approximately €1.8 trillion. In this context, the report points out that the risk of exposure to financial crimes and fraud is very high.

The 153-page report by former director of public prosecutions James Hamilton recommends 25 legislation, including the prevention of crime by top officials. There must be a radical change in policing, structure and prosecution levels. It says the gardai should be empowered to issue search warrants that allow passwords for phones, computers, and other electronic devices.

Independent experts should also be allowed in when questioning suspects in complex cases. The report also suggests that the detention period should be extended to seven days, similar to organised crimes.

Comprehensive legislation is needed in cases involving former members of Oireachtas. The report recommends that the ethics legislation, which governs them, be amended immediately. Bid rigging should be considered a criminal offense, as is market sharing, nepotism he improper use of influence when hiring public officials. Investigators and judges should be given special training to deal with such crimes and specialist judges should be appointed.

There should be comprehensive coordination between the Garda, SIPO, DPP, ODCE, and other agencies investigating financial crime and corruption so that more information can be gathered and shared.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said the implementation of the Hamilton Review recommendations needed the support of both the cabinet and state agencies. The minister said this should be complemented by other anti-corruption initiatives such as the Garda Inspectorate report on countering the threat of internal garda corruption.

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