Frontline gardaí in Cork have welcomed moves to almost double the size of the city’s sex crime unit.
The Irish Examiner revealed on Tuesday that the Cork Divisional Protective Services Unit is to get an extra 11 officers comprising two detective sergeants and nine gardaí.
The competition for the staff, which is to begin soon, will, on completion, bring the strength of the specialist section to 25.
The decision by Garda HQ has been welcomed by the Garda Representative Association, the staff body for frontline members.
“Crimes investigated by the Protective Services Unit are of the most sensitive and often disturbing nature,” said GRA representative for Cork City Division, Padraig Harrington.
“It is only right that Cork City should have a fully staffed specialist unit for this type of work and victims of sexual crime can be assured that an appropriately trained expert will be assigned to investigate their cases.”
He said other State agencies and voluntary bodies who support victims of sexual violence will get “a lot of comfort” from the development.
The Cork Protective Services Unit was unable to take on any new cases last year because of a backlog of cases and fewer than half of reported offences this year are being investigated by it.
Detective Garda Harrington said: “The GRA also welcomes the news that the Protective Services Unit has worked through the vast majority of the backlog of historical cases and they are now in a position to take on new investigations.”
A Garda spokesperson told the Irish Examiner earlier in the week: “During 2019, the Protective Services Unit in Cork City were unable to take on additional cases due to a number of complex investigations, which involved an immense workload. Since the beginning of 2020, over 40% of the incidents that would fall under the Pulse category of ‘sexual offences’ have been taken on by the Protective Services Unit in Cork.
“Sanction has been given to hold a competition over the coming months to add additional resources into the Protective Services Unit in Cork.”