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Sexual crime

Disclaimer:

The below details are correct at time of publishing, and are provided as guidance only. Seek legal advice from your solicitor where necessary.

Sexual Crime

Sexual Crime includes rape; aggravated sexual assault; sexual assault; defilement of a child; the production, distribution and possession of child pornography; the sexual exploitation of a child; child trafficking and taking a child for purposes of sexual exploitation; soliciting, importuning or meeting a child for the purpose of sexual exploitation; incest; indecent exposure; and attempts to commit any of the foregoing offences. (This definition is provided for guidance but should not be interpreted as being fully exhaustive.)

Sexual crime may be committed by male and female adults and children aged 10 years or more. In the case of a child under 14 years of age who is charged with an offence, no further prosecutions may take place without the consent of the Director of Public Prosecutions. It is not necessary that such offences are committed by strangers but it is often more common that they are committed by persons known to the victim, including family members, friends, associates, partners and persons in authority. Children can be particularly vulnerable to such crime and the protection and future welfare of children is of paramount importance in the work of An Garda Síochána.

Sexual crime may occur within heterosexual, lesbian, homosexual, bisexual and transgender relationships. It crosses class, gender, race and religious belief.

Making an initial report

If you are a victim to of witness to a sexual crime or child abuse we would urge you to report this to An Garda Síochána. You can do this by the following methods:

Call 112/999

Call 112/99 in the case of an emergency - an emergency is any incident which requires an immediate Garda response. Examples of emergencies are a danger to life; risk of serious injury; crime in progress or about to happen; offender still at scene or has just left.

Child Sexual Abuse Freephone 

Complaints of child abuse can be made over the phone and in a confidential manner 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to 1800 555 222.

Call your local Garda Station or report in person 

You can also contact your local Garda station in person or by telephone. Details of all Garda stations are available here. You may call to the Garda station I person accompanied by a friend or a support worker from one of the many victim support groups. Details of those groups, providing both national and local services, are listed on www.cosc.ie. Cosc, the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence is an executive office of the Department of Justice and Equality.

Contact your local Rape Crisis Centre

Rape crisis centres throughout the country offer advice and support services to victims of rape and sexual assault. You may contact the national 24-hour helpline at 1800 77 88 88.

Please consider reporting the incident to An Garda Síochána at the earliest opportunity. A delay in reporting the opportunity for An Garda Síochána to collect important evidence.

Remember when calling 112 or 999, stay calm, focused and stay on the line. Please clearly state the emergency service you require. You may be required to give details such as your name, location and telephone number.

An Garda Síochána recognises the emotional and physical pain that victims of sexual crime and child abuse may be suffering. This suffering can often be to such an extent that victims feels that they cannot report the crime to An Garda Síochána. We acknowledge this difficulty for victims, but we would encourage all victims of sexual crime and child abuse to make a complaint to An Garda Síochána to ensure that, where possible, the perpetrator is made accountable.

You can be assured that:

  • It is the duty of An Garda Síochána to investigate fully all reports of sexual crime and child abuse, without exception. Your report will be treated seriously.
  • Gardaí are trained to investigate your report in a compassionate, sensitive and professional manner. Ever effort will be made to have a Garda of the gender of your choice allocated to the investigation.
  • The rights of all parties involved in the investigation will be vindicated. Victims will be dealt with in accordance with EY Directive 29/2012 for Victims of Crime, Irish legislation and the Garda Síochana Victims Charter.
  • Complaints of sexual crime and child abuse are recorded on the Garda Síochana PULSE computer system but access is restricted to personnel involved in the investigation and supervisors.
  • You will be given the contact details of the investigating Garda and kept updated on the progress of the Garda investigation on a regular basis. You will be provided with the PULSE Incident Number relating to your complaint.
  • You will be provided with details of available support services relevant to the crime that you report.
  • You will be accompanied by a solicitor and/or another person of your choice when engaging with An Garda Síochána. You may also be provided with other special protective measures such as specially trained interviewers and/or an interpreter, depending on your circumstances.
  • An Garda Síochána will communicate and work with the Child and Family Agency where any child protection concerns arise.
  • When the investigation is complete, an investigation file must be forwarded to the Director of Public Prosecutions.

The Director of Public Prosecutions frequently brings prosecutions which relate to complaints of sexual offences which may have occurred some considerable time previously. In many such cases, judicial review proceedings will be taken in the High Court to prevent the prosecution from proceeding to trial on the basis that there has been an undue delay in charging the accused. Those applications are often grounded on allegations of prejudice being caused by delay, (e.g. a witness who may have been available, had the prosecution been brought sooner, has now ceased to be available).

If you wish to make a historical complaint, follow one of these steps:

Call 112/999

Call 112/99 in the case of an emergency - an emergency is any incident which requires an immediate Garda response. Examples of emergencies are a danger to life; risk of serious injury; crime in progress or about to happen; offender still at scene or has just left.

Child Sexual Abuse Freephone 

Complaints of child abuse can be made over the phone and in a confidential manner 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to 1800 555 222.

Call your local Garda Station or report in person 

You can also contact your local Garda station in person or by telephone. Details of all Garda stations are available here. You may call to the Garda station I person accompanied by a friend or a support worker from one of the many victim support groups. Details of those groups, providing both national and local services, are listed on www.cosc.ie. Cosc, the National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence is an executive office of the Department of Justice and Equality.

Contact your local Rape Crisis Centre

Rape crisis centres throughout the country offer advice and support services to victims of rape and sexual assault. You may contact the national 24-hour helpline at 1800 77 88 88.

 

Where the sexual crime is reported to have been committed by a relative or cohabiting partner of the complainant, members should be mindful of the possibility of the complainant obtaining a Safety Order, Barring Order, Interim Barring Order, and/or Protection Order as appropriate.

If you have been the victim of a rape or sexual assault in the last 7 days you may attend a Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU) with or without Garda accompaniment. Three services are currently offered.

  • You may report the crime to An Garda Síochána, who will accompany you to the SATU. There you will receive comprehensive medical, psychological and forensic care. Any injuries will be documented and treated and appropriate forensic samples will be taken to aid the Garda investigation.
  • If you do not wish to report the crime to An Garda Síochána you may attend a SATU (open 24 hours, 365 days a year) to receive medical and psychological care. No forensic samples will be taken.
  • You may attend a SATU without Garda involvement to obtain medical and psychological care and have forensic samples taken and retained at the SATU while you consider whether or not to report the crime to An Garda Síochána. The samples will normally be retained for one year unless you request in writing that they be retained for a further period.

Cosc - The National Office for the Prevention of Domestic, Sexual and Gender-based Violence / cosc.ie

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre - www.drcc.ie / national 24-hour helpline Freephone 1800 778888

Rape Crisis Network Ireland - www.rcni.ie / local centres www.rapecrisishelp.ie/find-a-service

Sexual Assault Treatment Unit services - www.hse.ie/satu

Tusla - Child and Family Agency - www.tusla.ie

CARI - Children at Risk in Ireland - www.cari.ie / Helpline Mon-Fri 9.30am to 5.30pm Lo Call 1890 924567

ISPCC - www.ispcc.ie / 24-hour childline - Freephone 116 000

Crime Victims Helpline - www.crimevictimshelpline.ie / Freephone 116 066

Samaritans - www.samaritans.org / 24-hour helpline Freephone 116 123

The Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) provides advice, guidance and assistance to Gardai investigating the following: Sexual Crime Investigation; Online Child Exploitation Investigation; Child Protection, Domestic Abuse Intervention and Investigation; Human Trafficking Investigation; Organised Prostitution Investigation; ViCLAS; Specialist Interview; Sex Offender Management; Missing Persons; Missing Persons in Care; and, Support for Victims of Crime.  The bureau leads the investigation in more complex cases.

The Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB)

Victims of a sexual offence – releasing your counselling records Section 19(a) of the Criminal Evidence Act 1992 as amended by Section 39 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 

In a trial for a sexual offence, the defence must be told if you have counselling records. The defence will not be told the contents of the counselling records, only that they exist. The defence may ask to see the contents of the counselling records. They should ask for this before the trial begins, but they can ask after the trial begins. The prosecution can also ask to see your records if they think there is information relevant to the trial. 

You can choose to give your consent to release your records or not.  It is important to know that if you give your consent, you can withdraw it at any time.

If you give your consent

You can see your counselling records before they are released. You can bring someone with you when you see your records. Your records will be given to the prosecuting solicitor and they will examine the records for information that is relevant to the trial. In order to protect your privacy, any information that is not relevant to the trial will be redacted before the records are released to the defence. If there is nothing in your records that is relevant to the trial, your records will not be released. 

If your records are released to the defence, there are strict rules about who can see them: the prosecuting solicitor and barrister will see them first; the defence solicitor and barrister will only see information that is relevant to the trial; the accused person can see the information that is relevant to the trial but only if their solicitor or barrister is with them. The accused person is not allowed to take a copy of your records. The court may also set other conditions in order to protect your privacy and in the interests of justice. 

If you do not give your consent 

If you do not give your consent or if you withdraw your consent to release the records, the trial judge will have to decide if the records should be released to the defence without your consent. A hearing will take place where the judge will examine your records and decide if there is any information relevant to the trial. You can see your counselling records before this hearing. You are entitled to free legal aid – a solicitor and/or barrister – to represent your interests at this hearing. At the court hearing, the judge may decide that nothing in your records is relevant to the trial and your records will not be released. Alternatively, the judge may decide there is information relevant to the trial that must be released. If this happens, the judge will decide what information is to be released. The judge may also set conditions to restrict access to the information in order to protect your privacy. The judge will then order the information to be released to the prosecution and the defence. 

If there is information in your counselling records that is relevant to the case, it may be used as evidence in the trial. The prosecution barrister may ask you questions about the information in your records. The defence barrister may also ask you questions about information in your records. 

When the trial is finished, all copies of your records will be deleted or returned to the prosecution. 

For the law on this matter, see Section 19(a) of the Criminal Evidence Act 1992 as amended by section 39 of the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017: https://revisedacts.lawreform.ie/eli/1992/act/12/revised/en/html#SEC19A