One in Four today welcomes the very thorough Garda Inspectorate Review on Garda responses to allegations of child sexual abuse.  While the Review highlights many instances of improvements and good practice, it is disappointing to see that in so many areas, the Gardaí have not implemented many of the recommendations of the 2012 Inspectorate Report on arrangements for investigating cases of child sexual abuse.  The stark reality is that many children continue to be at risk of further abuse and sex offenders continue to abuse with impunity.

Executive Director Maeve Lewis says: “The Review shows that progress in responding to cases of child sexual abuse by the Gardaí, Tusla and the criminal courts still lags way behind international best practice.  The Review also mirrors the experience of One in Four clients, adult survivors of child sexual abuse, in engaging with the criminal justice system.”

We are especially concerned about the following findings:

  • Untrained and inexperienced Gardaí are often the chief investigator in child sexual abuse cases.  In our experience this can lead to unsatisfactory investigations and interview styles which are completely unsuitable for vulnerable complainants. 
  • Poor, tardy and inconsistent liaison between Tusla and the Gardaí has as a consequence that children are continuing to live in situations where they may experience further sexual abuse.
  • Victims of sexual crime continue to be subject to multiple interviews by Tusla and the Gardaí, rather than routinely conducting one joint interview.  This can cause further traumatisation and also jeopardise evidence.  This is completely at odds with best practice in other jurisdictions.
  • It is clear that the resources available to the Gardaí to properly investigate allegations of online abuse and exploitation of children are completely inadequate.  At a time when there has been huge public concern about children’s online safety, this is completely unacceptable.  It also increases the risk that vigilante groups will take the law into their own hands.
  • The Review highlights challenges in managing convicted sex offenders in the community.  Many offenders are not subjected to supervision orders on their release from prison, regardless of the level of risk they pose to the community.  This needs to be reviewed by the judiciary and addressed by legislation.
  • The Review also discusses the criminal justice system.  Fewer than 13% of the child sexual abuse cases sampled by the Inspectorate were referred to the Director of Public Prosecution.  Of those referred, only 32% resulted in a conviction. – just over 4% of the total.  This reflects the experience of One in Four clients who make a complaint to the Gardaí.  It also means that the vast majority of sex offenders can be confident that they will never be called upon to answer for their crimes.

It is welcome to note that the Gardaí are rolling out Protective Services Units across all Garda divisions, where trained and experienced detectives will investigate and manage cases of child sexual abuse.  It is hoped this will improve the rate of successful investigations and also the experience of vulnerable complainant.

Maeve Lewis ends:  “After years of Inquiries, Reports and Reviews it is just not good enough that so much remains to be done by the statutory agencies charged with protecting our children.  I hope the recommendations of this Review will galvanise our political leaders, senior management in Tusla and the Gardaí and in the criminal courts to ensure that all the recommendations of this review are implemented as a matter of urgency.  If not, children will continue to be sexually abused and lives will be devastated.”



Maeve Lewis Executive Director One in Four     087 7584080

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