Online sex offenders ‘do not fit the stereotype’

Online sex offenders are typically well-educated, in a relationship, and aged 25 to 50, according to the gardaí.

This profile was given by Detective Superintendent Declan Daly at the National Organisation for the Treatment of Sex Abusers’ conference, which was in Dublin yesterday.

“The stereotype some people think is that you have somebody sitting in a basement in a string vest with a small laptop. That’s not what it is,” said Det Supt Daly of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau.

“The profile of an internet offender is] 25-50, highly intelligent, educated, employed, probably in a relationship, no previous criminal conviction.

“It’s very difficult for us to find that person. Look at that profile there. It’s very difficult for the police to find that person.”

The theme of yesterday’s conference was best practice in combatting online sexual offending and Det Supt Daly also outlined the common crimes gardaí face online every day.

Grooming, ‘sextortion’, ‘catfishing’, and the harvesting of images from social media sites are all common things that they deal with.

He said a ‘joyous image’ of a teenager on the beach that has been posted to social media can be ‘harvested’ and attached to an ad for child prostitution or pornography.

Det Supt Daly said it is not about taking the phone from your child to protect them, but instead to educate everyone in the family about the dangers of online sexual predators.

“Really, the key note [to take away] is education and awareness so children are aware that there are dangers there; parents are aware that there are dangers and with that, I think comes a lot of protection,” he said.

Other speakers at the event included Maggie Brennan, a research psychologist, at University College Cork, and social worker Stuart Allardyce, who is national manager of Stop It Now! Scotland, where online modules are available to people who are trying to stop viewing illegal images of children both pre- and post- charge.


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