New garda unit will oversee sex-crime inquiries
A NEW sexual crime management unit is being set up within An Garda Siochana to oversee inquiries by members of the force into allegations and complaints of abuse.
The move was announced yesterday by Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy at the annual conference of the Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors in Galway. He said the unit would regularly evaluate investigations into child sexual abuse, child neglect and other sexual offences to ensure they were being dealt with properly and brought to a prompt conclusion.
The team, which is being established within the existing domestic violence and sexual assault investigation unit, will also focus on assisting and training gardai around the country in carrying out inquiries into abuse and promote international standards.
It will also be tasked with maintaining a record of all complaints of clerical sexual abuse and interact with agencies that are in a position to report complaints to gardai.
The garda chief said he also planned to circulate a comprehensive policy on the investigation of sexual crime, on crimes against children and on child welfare. This followed a review, headed by Deputy Commissioner Martin Callinan, into existing work practices and methods in this area, following the publication of the Murphy and Ryan reports.
He said it was the duty of the gardai to investigate fully all incidents of sexual crime and child abuse reported to them.
But he said gardai were not carrying out any investigations into Cardinal Sean Brady, who has been criticised for his role as a priest in an alleged cover-up of a clerical abuse case.
The commissioner also disclosed that gardai and the PSNI would shortly publish guidance manuals for their members on how they should approach a crime with a cross-border dimension.
The manual will cover the sharing of information and intelligence between forces in an investigation where witnesses or suspects are living outside the jurisdiction where the crime took place, and in the transfer of evidence.
The commissioner also said that he shared conference delegates' concerns about the head shops phenomenon, and promised that the same commitment that had been demonstrated against drug trafficking would be applied to enforcement of proposed legislation clamping down on substances sold in the head shops.