The Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has emphasised the importance of combining professionalism with sensitivity and compassion in the investigation of sexual crimes.
In a statement to announce the publication on the Garda website (www.garda.ie) of An Garda Síochána’s policy on the investigation of sexual crime, crimes against children and child welfare, the Commissioner said:
"It is the duty of the Gardaí to investigate fully all incidents of sexual crime and child abuse reported to them. These cases require special care and attention because of the often vulnerable circumstances in which victims find themselves. The positive and compassionate attitude of members of the Garda Síochána towards victims of such crimes is vital to ensuring that any investigation is brought to a successful conclusion for the complainant. That is a key aspect of this document.
In making our policy available to members of the public, our objective is to ensure maximum confidence in our investigation methods, our skills and resources for dealing with these difficult crimes. The policy draws together all existing directives and guidance on the investigation of sexual crime and crimes against children and is also informed by a number of recent reports and studies on this area including the Ryan Commission to inquire into Child Abuse, the Murphy Commission of Investigation into the Catholic Archdiocese of Dublin, a report on the experience of victims of rape and sexual assault recently commissioned by the Rape Crisis Network."
Referring to recent developments in the investigation of sexual offences including the establishment of a Crime Training Faculty to train senior investigating officers, the training and appointment of specialist child interviewers and the establishment of dedicated child interview suites, the Commissioner said:
"These initiatives are designed to ensure An Garda Síochána’s investigative capability is in line with best international practice. We have built up a significant reservoir of experience within the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit which will now include a new Sexual Crime Management Unit. This new unit each year will evaluate a number of investigations of child sexual abuse, child neglect and other sexual offences to ensure they are receiving appropriate attention and being brought to a prompt conclusion. The Unit will also be focused on assisting and advising members in the investigation of such crimes and in promoting best investigative practice in line with international standards. The unit will maintain a record of all complaints of clerical sexual abuse and will interact as appropriate with contact points in these agencies who are in a position and have a responsibility to report complaints of sexual abuse to An Garda Síochána. Protocols will be developed and maintained with the various religious organisation operating in this jurisdiction relation to the reporting of and exchange of information on incidents of sexual, physical and emotional abuse committed by members of employees of their organisations."
In concluding the Garda Commissioner stressed how every member of the community has a role in the protection of children.
"While An Garda Síochána has significant expertise and experience in the investigation of sexual offences and crimes against children, we can only deploy those skills and resources when we are made aware of the need for them. We would urge on all individuals and organisations with responsibility for children the importance of being alert to signs of abuse. Where abuse is identified or suspected, people must report it to An Garda Síochána to enable us to take the necessary steps to protect and vindicate the rights of victims."
Notes for Editors:
1. This policy is the work of a group chaired by the Deputy Commissioner in charge of Operations Martin Callinan which reviewed work practices and methodologies for the investigation of sexual abuse cases. The group included key individuals within the organisation including Detective Superintendent John McCann, head of the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit (DVSAIU) and other experienced investigators of all ranks within An Garda Síochána.
2. The new Sexual Crime Management Unit will be headed by an experienced Detective Inspector, will be adequately resourced and will report to the Detective Superintendent in the DVSAIU within the overall National Support Services framework.
3. The policy is available on www.garda.ie on the Home Page and also under Publications - Policy in the menu on the left hand side.
Garda Press & Public Relations Office.