Wednesday 12 December 2018

Garda division failed to properly investigate 98pc of child porn cases

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Stock photo
Robin Schiller

Robin Schiller

A DUBLIN garda division failed to properly investigate 98pc of cases in which there was a suspicion of images of child abuse being accessed.

The Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) North garda division was sent details on 61 occasions where information was received that an IP address in that area was viewing child abuse material.

The intelligence package was sent by the Online Child Exploitation Unit (OnCE), which is based in Harcourt Square.

When a garda division is sent an intel package, it is expected to respond to the national unit to inform them of a progress report and if a property has been searched or arrests have been made.

However, of the 61 intel packages sent to the DMR North Division, just a single response was received by OnCE.

Mark Toland, chief inspector of the Garda Inspectorate, said that “failure to provide any response allows an inference to be drawn that cases were not satisfactorily progressed”.

The revelation means that gardai in DMR North properly investigated only 2pc of cases where credible information said an individual residing in the area was accessing child abuse material.

In total, 540 intelligence packages were sent by OnCe to garda divisions across the State between January 2014 and June 2016.

The Garda Inspectorate said that there was “an expectation that a division would investigate the case and, where appropriate, obtain warrant to search an address for evidence of a crime”.

In total, 435 responses were received by the unit responsible for investigating child exploitation, with 19pc of cases outstanding.

The figures were revealed in a detailed report by the Garda Inspectorate in which it reviewed gardai’s response to child sex abuse offences.

It found that technology available to immediately identify people accessing child abuse material was not being used by gardai.

“While technology is available to identify in real time those accessing child abuse material, it is not yet in use,” Chief Inspector Toland added.

“There needs to be a much stronger garda online presence to target those seeking to groom and exploit children.”

The inspectorate said gardai need to be more proactive in targeting child sex abusers online and voiced a need for more specially trained officers.

It also strongly criticised new garda recruits, who are “not long out of Templemore”, being brought in to investigate serious offences such as child rape.

An Garda Siochana welcomed the inspectorate’s report and said it is “committed to tackling the issue of child sexual abuse in a comprehensive and effective manner”.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said an implementation group was being established to ensure that the report was acted upon.

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