Last week, Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan announced the creation of a Child Protection and Human Exploitation Unit, which will cover child abuse, domestic violence, sexual violence, and human trafficking.
She also announced a new anti-gang squad, combining the Garda National Drug Unit and the Organised Crime Unit.
Rape Crisis Network Ireland yesterday welcomed the establishment of the Child Protection and Human Exploitation Unit, but noted it had a much wider remit. It pointed out the investigation of sexual violence required “a level of specialisation”.
The unit expands the Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit (DVSAIU) and will also take the human trafficking section from the Garda National Immigration Bureau.
The DVSAIU also investigates paedophile crime and is headed by a detective superintendent. The new unit will have a detective chief superintendent and two detective superintendents.
A Garda source said: “This shows the priority the commissioner is placing on this particular area, The fact that it will be led by a chief superintendent, assisted by two detective superintendents, reflects the expanded size and strength of it.”
Sources said the heads of the Child Protection Unit and the new Organised Crime Unit are expected to meet senior leaders in the Garda National Support Services this week, in advance of them formally starting their new job next Monday.
RCNI acting executive director Clíona Saidléar said: “RCNI welcome the more senior and increased staffing levels of the new Child Protection, Domestic Violence [which will include Sexual Assault Investigation] and Human Exploitation Unit but note that this Unit also has a much wider remit.
“RCNI are clear that the unique nature of sexual violence crimes as well as our obligations under the EU Directive on Victims’ Rights, require a level of specialisation from the gardaí and from other State agencies.
“It is as yet unclear how the new unit will help to create a specialist approach to survivors of sexual violence, within the new Garda Victim Service offices, but there is a real opportunity within these new structures to develop such an approach.?
A Garda Inspectorate report, published last November, said that the DVSAIU was ?"very much focused on sexual violence against children and particularly victims of clerical abuse?". It said that with regard to adult rape and other sexual offences, the unit did not perform an investigative role and did ?"little work" in relation to monitoring investigations.
The inspectorate said only a ?"cadre of specially-trained gardai" should record and investigate such crimes.
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