Freephone line to report child sex abuse to Gardaí launched

Freephone line to report child sex abuse to Gardaí launched

A new phone line has been set up for victims of child sex abuse who want to report it to the Gardaí.

Callers can ring 1800 555 222 at any time of the day or night, 365 days a year.

On foot of a recommendation by the Garda Inspectorate five years ago, the phone line has been set up to report the crime of child sex abuse.

Executive director of One in Four, Maeve Lewis, explained the challenges facing victims of child sex abuse.

Freephone line to report child sex abuse to Gardaí launched

"Can you imagine having to walk into a Garda station, say in a busy front office: 'I want to talk to someone about a sexual crime'?" she said.

Detective Superintendent Declan Daly explained how it works.

"The caller dials a number, 1800 555 222," he said.

"That call is answered by a call ticket in our information centre, they record details of the abuse - the name, the phone number, the location of the abuse, and the date (if known).

"That information then is passed to our districts so that a detective can be assigned to investigate that and the investigation process will begin."

He says that a caller only has to give a small amount of information to start the process, and it doesn’t matter when the abuse took place.

"There's no cut-off date," said Det Supt Daly.

"Anybody who's been the victim of abuse should be assured that they can come forward and that those concerns will be investigated by An Garda Síochána.

Maeve Lewis said that people can often hold off on reporting for years.

"Many of the people who come to One in Four have been abused 10, 20, 30 years ago, and with our support they very often decide to make a report to gardaí," she said.

"We do know that people continue abusing children until they are caught - that is the bottom line.

"So typically [when] somebody is abused by their father, we know then, very often, that the grandchildren are going to be abused.

"And the Gardaí take retrospective, historical allegations very, very seriously."

The ISPCC also welcomed the announcement of the establishment of a dedicated confidential Freephone line.

ISPCC CEO Grainia Long said “The ISPCC welcomed the commitment in the Garda Modernisation and Renewal Programme to establish a dedicated confidential freephone line to encourage victims of child sexual abuse – historic or current – to report such incidents, and we are pleased to see this helpline launched today.

Freephone line to report child sex abuse to Gardaí launched

“The decision to make a disclosure about abuse, whether the person is experiencing it at the present time or whether it happened decades ago, is incredibly difficult and extremely brave.

“It is well documented that the early conversations that people have of their experience of disclosure of abuse – the treatment they receive, the sense of being believed, and of their right to disclose being upheld – has a great impact on their entire experience of reporting the abuse. In some cases, it can colour later decisions including how to proceed, and their participation throughout a difficult time, in instances where criminal proceedings against a perpetrator arise.

“Having a dedicated, confidential line, with trained staff who are and will become increasingly expert in supporting people who are reporting abuse is a real step forward to ensure that victims have the support they need from the earliest stages of reporting.”

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