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New specially trained garda units to investigate child abuse and domestic violence

Four new protective services units went live today.

Image: Sam Boal

VICTIMS OF CRIMES like domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault can expect a more professional service from gardaí as four new specially trained units go live today.

The new protective services units are based in Cabra, Clondalkin, Anglesea Street in Cork and Dundalk. They are the first to be established as part of a phased nationwide roll-out of these units in all garda divisions.

The need for specialist training for gardaí when dealing with vulnerable children in particular was highlighted this week in a report by Special Rapporteur on Child Protection Geoffrey Shannon. He also said there was a greater need for cooperation between gardaí and the child and family agency Tusla.

The four new units will focus on specialised crime areas and services including:

  • Sexual crimes
  • Online child Exploitation
  • Child protection, crimes against children and child welfare
  • Domestic abuse
  • Human trafficking
  • Organised prostitution
  • Specialist interviewing
  • Sex offender management
  • Missing persons
  • Missing children in care
  • Support for victims of crime
  • Violent crime linkage analysis system (ViCLAS).

Detective Superintendent Ann Marie Cagney of the Protective Services Bureau told TheJournal.ie that a large number of gardaí applied for positions on the unit.

There will be up to 15 personnel attached to each of the units. This will include an inspector, two detective sergeants, 10 detective gardaí and two administrative staff.

“The successful candidates are very eager and interested, they have a passion for this line of work,” she said.

Members of the unit have so far received a two-day briefing and quarterly modular training in all types of specialised crimes will begin in the middle of this month.

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Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said the roll-out of these units will mean victims of these crimes can “expect a more professional and consistent service from the gardaí”.

It will also provide us with an opportunity to place vulnerable victims of crime at the centre of the garda service, which is in line with our stated ethos of providing a more victim-centred, empathetic and meaningful service to the people who need it most. It also reaffirms our commitment that there is no place for differential treatment in modern Irish policing.

“We are pleased to see four units being rolled out. We need well informed, well trained Gardaí to effectively combat sexual, domestic and gender based violence,” commented Noeline Blackwell, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre. “We need victims to be confident that if they work up the courage to report, their cases will be investigated in a consistently high quality manner. These units are structured to provide that.”

Gardaí have said regular assessments will be made to review implementation progress and lessons from these four units will be incorporated as the countrywide rollout progresses.

Read: ‘Children are treated like human trash’: The systematic failings in Ireland’s child protection system>

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