No probe as yet into sexually explicit images of Irish women leaked online

Commissioner Drew Harris said that, as yet, no complaint has been made to Gardaí
No probe as yet into sexually explicit images of Irish women leaked online

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said they have received no official complaints related to the image leak. File picture.

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris said officers are not currently investigating the circulation online of thousands of intimate images of women, uploaded without their consent.

He said this was because no victims have so far made any complaints to gardaí about the images.

Speaking at a public meeting of the Policing Authority, the Garda chief said detectives have examined more than 10,000 images and found none contained child abuse.

A victims’ group revealed that thousands of sexually explicit images of Irish women have been leaked online — and claimed that some of the photos are of children.

“There are no images of child abuse within them,” the Commissioner told the Policing Authority.

He said that while the website hosting these images is not based in Ireland, gardaí have been in touch with law enforcement in the host country who assisted them.

“The images run to over 10,000 and all of them have been examined and, as of yet, we have had no actual complaints of image-based sexual abuse,” he said.

We are aware of the circumstances. As yet, we have had no actual complaints of images-based sexual abuse or coercion or harassment.”

The Commissioner added: “There are actually no crimes under investigation in this jurisdiction at this moment in time.

“But at the same time, as an organisation, we are very aware of coercive control, the harassment of individuals, the problem of images being used to intimidate people, blackmail people as a form of, as it’s known, image-based sexual abuse.” 

He appealed to people suffering from this to report it to the Gardaí, saying they had specialist teams all over the country.

On a separate issue, the Policing Authority heard that gardaí are examining if the failure to submit DNA samples in criminal investigations was a factor in the lack of prosecutions in 34 cases.

A major 18-month review was launched following media reports in early April 2019 claiming that up to 2,000 DNA samples taken from criminals were missing and not added to the national DNA database.

The Garda review report was supplied to the Policing Authority, which questioned the Garda Commissioner and senior officers on the matter at a public meeting today.

While the report was not made public, some details were provided. According to gardaí:

  • 46,000 DNA samples were checked between November 2015 and April 2019;
  • Over 4,400 samples appeared to reveal issues; 
  • Following examination, 489 of these remained to be of concern; 
  • In 255 cases, the suspects were sampled on another occasion; 
  • In the other 234 cases, a further 73 people can be sampled again if necessary;
  • Of the remaining 161 cases, 92 samples were for intelligence, rather than investigation, purposes 
  • In 35 cases, a prosecution was taken anyway
  • Of the remaining 34 cases that were not prosecuted, gardaí are investigating if the failure to submit DNA samples was a factor.

On the much-talked-about powers allowing gardaí to issue fines in relation to house parties and non-wearing of face masks, the Commissioner said they would not be operational until the end of next week.

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