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Garda IT must be improved to tackle child abuse online – Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

23 May, 2018 - by Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice and Equality Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire TD has said there is an urgent need for the Minister support the Gardaí in improving their technologies to tackle child abuse online.

Teachta Ó Laoghaire said:

“The Garda Inspectorate today in the Oireachtas Committee has outlined its criticism of the manner in which Gardaí handled some child sex abuse cases. This arose from a report which reviewed the implementation of recommendations made in a 2012 report into An Garda Síochána’s approach to child sexual abuse cases.

“The review found that only half the actions the Garda Inspectorate required the Garda to implement to properly protect children had been taken. Given the seriousness and nature of this type of crime, this is a matter of serious concern given the time that has elapsed since the report was produced.

“66 per cent of all sex crimes reported to the Garda involved child victims, and there is no question but that child sexual abuse is one of the most serious types of crime for the Garda Síochána to deal with.

“According to the Inspectorate only half of the recommendations of the report have been implemented, and is disappointing and – in the Inspectorate’s opinion – has had a negative impact on the services currently delivered to victims.

"The inspectorate found victims were being dealt with by untrained Gardaí, Gardaí assigned to specialist child protection units had not received any child protection safety training; convicted offenders were not being properly supervised upon release; and communication failures between the Garda and Tusla.

"Of most particular concern is the fact that technology is available to the Garda to provide real-time intelligence on those accessing child abuse material.  However, this technology is not being activated because of the additional demands it would produce and the difficulty in allocating time to assess it.  Clearly this is an unacceptable state of affairs, and needs to be addressed urgently.

“Minister Flanagan needs to frontload the Garda IT budget to account for this. He also needs to ensure that the staff are allocated to use this equipment and technology. The Protective Services Bureau are a positive step, but I am concerned that they will be too few."

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