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'Courage must lead to convictions': New garda phoneline set up for victims of child sex abuse

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said the courage of those who report the crime must be rewarded.

A NEW GARDA helpline set up to make reporting child sex abuse claims easier has the potential to stop predators attacking more children, it was claimed.

Yesterday, Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan launched the new line and said that the courage and determination of those who speak out against their attackers is something which will always be praised.

The new service will be manned 24 hours a day and will run all year round. It will be staffed by trained gardaí and also private citizens who have been extensively trained in handling sensitive claims.

Detective Superintendent Declan Daly, describing how the line works, said that every claim made by those using the service will be dealt with extremely sensitively and diligently.

He said: “The protection of children is paramount to us. We are putting an emphasis on specialisation in the investigation of child sexual abuse. We are in the process of establishing protective services units throughout the country whose role will include the investigation of child abuse.”

Garda Command & Control Centre Garda Command and Control Centre Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

When someone rings the number 1850 555 222, their caller ID will not show up. The garda will then ask for a name, phone number, brief details of allegations and location and date of when the alleged attack happened. Call-takers will not seek any detailed information on the abuse. The details are then passed on to the relevant district where a detective will be assigned.

The new line has been welcomed by groups such as the Rape Crisis Centre and sex abuse survivor group One in Four.

One in Four’s executive director Maeve Lewis said the new line has the potential to solve a number of cases which may previously have not been investigated.

She said: “Reporting a sexual crime to gardaí can be a very difficult for people. Imagine going into a packed garda station and tell someone that you’re the victim of an assault. What this phone line does is make it easier for people to report what has happened to them and this has to be welcomed of course. I hope that more people come forward and are able to talk about what has happened to them.”

This sentiment was echoed by Noeline Blackwell of the Rape Crisis Centre. She said the new telephone line will make it easier for people to come forward. She said that it is hoped that more people will use it.

Garda Command & Control Centre. It will be a 24 hour service. Sam Boal / Sam Boal / /

The ISPCC welcomed the establishment of the new confidential phone line and said that the early conversations that people have of their experience of disclosing their abuse is very important. CEO Grainia Long said that the sense of being believed has a great impact on them.

She added: “Having a dedicated, confidential line, with trained staff who are and will become increasingly expert in supporting people who are reporting abuse is a real step forward to ensure that victims have the support they need from the earliest stages of reporting.”

You can call the phone line on 1800 555 222

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