Review of 105 child abuse cases

Gardaí are examining 105 child abuse cases the Garda Inspectorate has raised concerns about to ensure they have been investigated properly.

Review of 105 child abuse cases

Senior sources also said they hope to clear persistent backlogs in the examination of computers in child abuse cases by early 2019.

And they contradicted findings by the inspectorate that they were not using technology that they had to identify computers in real time that were accessing child abuse material (CAM).

An Garda Síochána declined to answer specific questions and referred queries to a general statement issued on Tuesday evening after the report was published — but sources at Garda headquarters did offer views on it.

Findings in the inspectorate’s 256-page report include:

  • “Unacceptable delays” in the examination of digital devices seized in CAM cases, with a quarter of cases outstanding, a third of which are at least four years old;
  • 105 child sexual cases which they believe “weren’t dealt with appropriately” and urged an immediate Garda review of them;
  • That technology in the possession of gardaí which would allow them to track computers in real time that were accessing CAM was not being used, in part because the force did not have the capacity to deal with the amount of intelligence gathered.

Launching the report, Chief Inspector Mark Toland praised the establishment of four divisional protective service bureau units and plans for four more this year — but said he wanted Garda bosses to have them in all 28 divisions by close of 2018.

Garda sources accepted they did not have a system inside the relevant national centre, the Garda online child exploitation unit, to monitor the progress of cases sent out to divisions for investigation.

“That was an issue, but we have put in a new system. We have a full-time garda looking at information going on and what’s coming back and chasing divisions.”

He said this work included examining the 105 cases: “We’re not saying all 105 cases are sorted, but we have a process to go back and examine them and see were they actioned by divisions and make sure it doesn’t happen again.”

He accepted that delays in examination of devices in the Garda Cyber Crime Unit continued, but said the backlog had been halved since 2011 and that they expected it to be “cleared in early 2019”.

The source differed with the inspectorate’s findings that available technology was not being used. He said the system known as Round-Up was being used “all the time” and not just in specific investigations, including the recent Operation Ketch.

In relation to the request by the inspectorate to have local Protective Service Bureau units in all 28 divisions by the end of the year, he thought this was unlikely.

Four have been set up and four more are planned this year. He said more pressure could now be put on gardaí to fulfil the request, but pointed out this had significant staff, training and accommodation implications.

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