New garda unit to combat sexual, domestic violence

by Sylvia Pownall
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ONE of two new Dublin Garda units specialising in sex crimes and domestic abuse went live in Clondalkin on Friday.
In all four Divisional Protective Services Units – based in Clondalkin, Cabra, Cork and Dundalk – were launched to tackle sexual crime, human trafficking, child abuse and domestic violence.
There are 15 personnel attached to each unit and according to Deputy Commissioner John Twomey their focus will be “to place vulnerable victims of crime at the centre of the garda service”.
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre chief executive Noeline Blackwell said the organisation had “waited for these units for a long time”.
Orla O’Connor, director of the National Women’s Council of Ireland, said: “We know how difficult it is to report domestic, physical and sexual violence and this is a positive step forward to changing that experience.”
Maeve Lewis of survivors’ group One in Four said: “We believe the specialist training provided to gardai in the DPSUs will improve the experience of survivors of child sexual abuse in engaging with the gardai, and hopefully will encourage more people to come forward.”
The move marks the delivery of a key pledge in the modernisation programme of An Garda Siochana.
A second phase of DPSUs are expected to be rolled out nationwide in 2018 – and garda chiefs have promised they will work closely with the Child and Family Agency Tusla.
They have also pledged “a more professional and consistent service” and an enhanced response to the investigation of missing persons, children who are missing in care, and sex offenders.
Ms Blackwell said: “We need well informed, well trained gardai to effectively combat sexual, domestic and gender based violence.
“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.”
In addition to sexual and domestic crime the Clondalkin unit will probe online child exploitation, child welfare, human trafficking and prostitution.
It will also deal with sex offender management, missing persons, support for victims of crime as well as a new Violent Crime Linkage Analysis System.

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