The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter TD, has today published the report of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate Responding to Child Sexual Abuse together with a document responding to the report’s recommendations and outlining the progress being made by the Government in tackling this issue.
The Garda Inspectorate was originally asked to carry out a review of the Garda arrangements for dealing with allegations of sexual abuse of children following publication of the Report of the Commission of Investigation on the Dublin Archdiocese. The Inspectorate submitted a report to the then Minister in late 2010. Around the same time, the Commission of Investigation’s report on the Diocese of Cloyne was received. Because of legal complications, it did not prove possible to publish that report until July 2011. Following that publication the Inspectorate was requested to review its report in light of the Cloyne findings. On foot of this the Inspectorate submitted an addendum to its original report. In light of the significance of the issues raised, the Minister has decided to publish a detailed response to the recommendations made at the same time as the report and addendum itself.
"I am very grateful to the Inspectorate for its analysis and recommendations, which are focused on improving the investigation of child sexual abuse and better protecting children.", Minister Shatter said.
"The development of an effective response to these recommendations is well underway and reflected in the measures set out in the response document which I am also publishing today. While the Inspectorate identified deficiencies at the time of its inspection, it also acknowledges that the Garda Síochána is addressing the issue of child sexual abuse as a top priority and that progress has been made in recent years. The Government and I are absolutely determined to learn from the mistakes of the past and to ensure that an effective response to child sexual abuse is in place, as part of an overall transformation of child welfare and protection systems."
While the inspection was under way An Garda Síochána issued a comprehensive policy on the investigation of sexual crime, crimes against children and child welfare. This had the effect that many of the Inspectorate recommendations had already been incorporated into Garda practice and this is reflected in the response document. In addition, a Sexual Crime Management Unit has been established, which assists Gardaí in the investigation of such crime, promotes best investigative practice and monitors a sample of investigations to ensure they are receiving appropriate attention.
Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said "I very much welcome the publication of the Garda Inspectorate Report and I want to acknowledge the good progress which is being made in strengthening cooperation between the HSE and An Garda Síochána as the principal bodies with statutory responsibility for child protection matters in Ireland". The Minister noted that the Inspectorate report placed considerable emphasis on effective inter agency working in the area of child protection. In this regard the Minister Fitzgerald has published revised Children First Guidance, the implementation of which is being overseen by an inter-departmental group including representatives of relevant Government Departments, the HSE and An Garda Síochána.
Work is also underway on a number of key legislative measures to support child protection. The Criminal Justice (Withholding Information on Crimes against Children and Vulnerable Adults) Bill will create an offence of failing to disclose, without reasonable excuse, information to the Gardaí where a serious criminal offence against a child or intellectually disabled person has been committed and the person knows or believes that the information they hold may be of material assistance in the arrest, prosecution or conviction of the offender. It is anticipated that the Bill will be published during this Oireachtas session. Work is also under way on the National Vetting Bureau Bill, which will provide a statutory basis for the existing Garda vetting procedures and provide for the use of "soft information" in vetting. It is anticipated that the Bill will be published in the first half of 2012. Furthermore, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has received Government approval to put the Children First Guidance on a statutory basis, and her Department is working with the Attorney General’s office to advance this measure.
The Garda Síochána Inspectorate Report is available on the Department of Justice and Equality website www.justice.ie
01 February, 2012
Click here to link to the report
Click here to link to the response to the report