Minister Katherine Zappone Urged To Review Handling of Child Abuse Cases

The call comes after the new Garda Inspectorate Report indicates that less than half the recommendations made have been implemented in the intervening six year period.

The new report found that only 4% of child sex abuse cases reported to the Gardaí resulted in a conviction in court. Yet almost 70% of all reported sex crimes in Ireland involve a child.

Fianna Fáil Justice Spokesperson, Jim O’Callaghan TD said: “It is damning that the State has failed so categorically in implementing these recommendations. The statistics in the report make for difficult reading - less than 5% of child sex abuse cases reported to the Gardaí resulted in a court conviction.

“While the report revealed that there has been over a 60% rise in internet based offending, yet there is no legislation to allow a Garda seek password details from an alleged offender to inspect his /her computer for illegal images.

And Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Children & Youth Affairs Anne Rabbitte has called on the Minister to "ensure that the relationship between Tusla and An Garda Síochána is radically improved".

“The findings of this report are truly shocking and only further emphasises the degree to which the State is failing children," she said.

"The description of the relationship between the Gardaí and Tusla as “inefficient” is extremely worrying and needs to act as a wake-up call for Children’s Minister Zappone and Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan.

“The fact that there has been a six year delay in progressing a recommendation made by the Garda Inspectorate back in 2012 that centres be set up to provide medical and support services to victims of child sexual abuse is absolutely unacceptable.

"It is deeply unfair to expect victims to have to travel to Dublin for these specialised services, when they have experienced such a traumatic event or series of events.

“Ministers Zappone and Flanagan cannot continue to ignore the serious disparities in these services.

"I am calling on them to ensure that this situation is urgently reviewed an acted on. These delays cannot be allowed to continue.”

Jim O’Callaghan TD added: “Fianna Fáil will be bringing forward legislation to address this glaring gap in the criminal law legislation over the coming weeks.

“The report highlights the lack of Gardaí dedicated to targeting child abusers and infiltrating their crimes such as grooming and exploiting children online. The Gardaí must be adequately resourced to police the internet as thoroughly as they do the streets.

“Gardaí have received significant training in how to use technology to identity online child abusers, but they have not been provided with appropriate access to such software or devices.

“Earlier this week I discovered that 77 Garda Stations are not networked to PULSE due to a lack of broadband nationwide and now the Garda Cyber Bureau is hampered due to poor speed broadband too.

“Gardaí have limited powers and resources to target this criminal activity. Government must ensure that the Gardaí are fully resourced to combat these crimes. The Gardaí must also be given more targeted powers to enable them to bring to justice offenders of these heinous crimes."

 

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