Minister publishes second Garda Inspectorate Report on Responding to Child Sexual Abuse
27 February 2018
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, has today published the second report by the Garda Inspectorate on ‘Responding to Child Sexual Abuse’. The report is a follow up review of their 2012 report on the same subject.
Welcoming the report, the Minister said: “I wish to sincerely thank the Garda Inspectorate for its new Report. This follow-up review was requested by my Department to ensure that child sexual abuse and exploitation are responded to as effectively and appropriately as possible. The new report, like its predecessor, is a valuable resource for further policy development and operational improvements in this area, and for the provision of better services and protections to children who are victims of – or at risk of – sexual crime.”
The report is primarily focused on the need to review, enhance or develop a wide range of procedures and structures for better tackling child abuse and exploitation, and for dealing more effectively with offenders and the needs of victims. While a majority of the recommendations are addressed directly to the Garda authorities, a significant number need to be taken forward in conjunction with Tusla and other stakeholders.
Noting the Inspectorate’s findings, the Minister added: “It is important to recognise the Inspectorate’s positive comments regarding many of the actions already taken by An Garda Síochána; particularly the rolling out of the Divisional Protective Services Units. That said, it is obvious that much work remains to be done. It is essential that we now build upon and sustain the momentum for a genuinely dynamic approach to tackling the scourge of child sexual abuse in all its forms.”
The report acknowledges significant developments in co-operation between An Garda Síochána and Tusla under Children First and other initiatives. The report also notes the advent of other important legislation such as the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 – which introduces stronger laws to tackle those who would prey on children online and elsewhere – and the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017.
In order to ensure the recommendations of the report are implemented as effectively as possible, the Government has agreed to Minister Flanagan’s proposal to establish an independently chaired cross-sectoral Implementation Group. This Group will comprise senior officials from the Department of Justice and Equality, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, the Department of Communications, Climate Action and Environment, the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, An Garda Síochána, Tusla and other Government bodies as required. The Group will also factor in the views of the Policing Authority and other key stakeholders. It will report on a quarterly basis to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy.
The Minister is pleased to announce that Ms Caroline Biggs SC has agreed to chair the Implementation Group. Ms Biggs was called to the Bar in 1997 and the inner Bar in 2009. She is an acknowledged expert in criminal law and prosecutes and defends criminal cases on a regular basis. She has a particular interest in the investigation and prosecution of Child sexual Abuse and made a written submission to the Garda Inspectorate during their review.
The Minister concluded, “We need a robust whole-of-government approach if we are to effectively tackle these issues from every angle, with all relevant stakeholders working together in a unified and fully committed manner. My officials, working closely with the independent Chair, will now immediately begin the next steps to get the Implementation Group up and running as quickly as possible.”
Note for editors
The report will be available from the following link shortly: Garda Síochána Inspectorate Report - Responding to Child Sexual Abuse (Follow Up Review)