Tuesday 19 June 2018

Children are victims in two-thirds of sex offences, TDs told

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Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Stark figures showing two-thirds of all recorded sexual offences involve a child victim were described as a "matter of extreme concern" at the Oireachtas Justice Committee.

The committee was hearing from the Garda Inspectorate, which also reported that more than half of the recommendations in a 2012 report into the response to child abuse cases have yet to be fully implemented.

Chief Inspector Mark Toland told TDs and senators that his organisation had examined the 2012 report and said that since then there has been a "considerable increase in the risks posed to children by the internet and social media".

Mr Toland said the review found 66pc of all recorded sexual offences involve a child victim. The age profile of victims ranged from as young as three and only 5pc of suspects were described as strangers. He said that since the 2012 report only 45pc of the recommendations had been fully implemented.

Mr Toland said processes in place between gardaí and Tusla for managing child protection cases were "inefficient".

He said inexperienced gardaí were still investigating child sexual abuse cases. He added that not all convicted sex offenders who should be monitored by a multi-agency process were subject to those arrangements.

There have been 24 new recommendations as a result of the review. These include gardaí and Tusla developing a more dynamic approach to managing child protection cases and ensuring the resources are in place to provide a strong online Garda presence.

Fianna Fáil's Jim O'Callaghan said statistics on the proportion of recorded sexual offences involving children was a "matter of extreme concern". He asked if anything has been done on the monitoring of sex offenders.

Mr Toland said all offenders were subject to some sort of monitoring by gardaí, but just 15pc were subject to a broader multi-agency approach. Independent TD Clare Daly said progress on implementing the 2012 recommendations was "just not good enough".

Mr Toland said that to be fair to gardaí, some of the recommendations were not their sole remit and involved other organisations too.

Irish Independent

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