One in Four welcomes the publication of the report by Tom O’Malley and the Working Group reviewing the Protections for Vulnerable Witnesses in the Investigation and Prosecution of Sexual Offences.

This detailed report recognises the complex and sensitive issues faced by victims of sexual assault who engage in the Criminal Justice System. The Working Group have made over 50 recommendations which, taken in concert, should mitigate some of the considerable challenges faced by complainant witnesses.

Key recommendations include training for all professionals, including An Garda Siochana, the Judiciary, and all officers of the State dealing with sexual offences. Specialist training for those working with victims of sexual crime is vital in view of the profound and enduring impact of sexual violence. The potentially re-traumatising impact of disclosing intimate details of sexual abuse can be compounded, at all stages of the Criminal Justice Process, if professionals are not sensitive to, and respectful of, the needs of victims.

One in Four supports the recommendation for additional funding to the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions to establish and maintain the new Sexual Offences Unit. This combined with the promise of Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to complete the roll out of the DPSU’s may target and deepen expertise in key areas. It is recognised that sexual violence is a particularly complex crime to investigate: an understanding of complex trauma is vital to provide context to victims’ experiences of revisiting an often degrading and terrifying experience within an adversarial system. One in Four hopes that the training referred to in the report includes inputs on complex trauma.

Deputy CEO, Deirdre Kenny said “Through One in Four’s research and experience of supporting clients through the Criminal Justice System, we have become very familiar with the risk to victims  of re-victimisation and re-traumatisation, a large contributing factor to which are the long delays in bringing cases to trial." We hope the recommendations relating to preliminary trial hearings will be implemented quickly and potentially make a substantive difference to these delays.

Deirdre Kenny continues “Covid-19 will have added even more pressure to the court system which was already experiencing long delays. It is crucial the recommendations on reducing delay and resources needed that can assist with this be implemented immediately.’’ We welcome Justice Minister Helen McEntee's commitment in this regard. 




Deirdre Kenny, Deputy CEO and Advocacy Director 01 6624070 / 087 2721694