Despite the growing problem of sexual violence, figures released to the Social Democrats show that only nine out of the country’s 28 Garda Divisions have specialist units to deal with victims of sexual crime.
In response to a parliamentary question, the Minister for Justice and Equality confirmed that there are ten dedicated Divisional Protective Service Units in nine Garda divisions, including two units in the Dublin metropolitan region.
Commenting on the situation, anti-sexual violence campaigner and SocDems Dáil candidate for Kildare South, Linda Hayden said:
“The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has today highlighted a ‘public health epidemic’ of sexual violence, with a greater awareness of the problem and more people disclosing and seeking help.
“Our police force should be at the forefront of efforts to tackle the problem and provide appropriate services and supports to people reporting sexual violence throughout the entire country.
“For victims of child abuse or people alleging domestic violence, rape or sexual violence, it is vital that they can be confident that investigations will be handled with expertise, sensitivity and efficiency by properly trained gardaí. The Protective Service Units at Garda division level are structured to provide that.
“It’s downright inexcusable that people living in 18 Garda Divisions don’t have local access to a specialist Protective Services Unit. Divisions without units include Kildare, Donegal, Clare, Mayo, Meath, Wexford, Westmeath and Wicklow. Only two Dublin divisions have established units – in South Central and West.
“When the first units were set up two years ago, An Garda Síochána said that they would go live throughout the country from the beginning of 2018. This deadline has now been extended to the end of 2019. But we are almost two thirds of the way through this year. Time is rapidly running out, and the losers are the victims of crimes of sexual violence who are not getting the special law enforcement supports and expertise that they deserve and should be able to expect.”
Ms Hayden also pointed to the shortage of specialist Sexual Assault Treatment Units for people who believe they have been raped or sexually assaulted to receive forensic examinations. There are currently just seven HSE-run units covering the whole country.
16th July 2019
Notes to Editors:
For Written Answer on : 09/07/2019
Question Number(s): 302 Question Reference(s): 29724/19
Department: Justice and Equality
Asked by: Róisín Shortall T.D.
To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the Garda divisions that have and have not respectively, a specialised unit to deal with cases of sexual violence.
As the Deputy will appreciate, it is the Garda Commissioner who is responsible for the distribution of resources among the various Garda Divisions and I, as Minister, have no direct role in the matter. Garda management keeps this distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities so as to ensure that the optimum use is made of these resources.
I have been informed by the Garda Commissioner that to date, Divisional Protective Services Units have been established in DMR South Central, Waterford, Kerry, Kilkenny, Carlow, Limerick and Galway Garda Divisions. These Units are in addition to those previously established in DMR West, Cork City and Louth Divisions in the initial phase of this initiative.
The Commissioner has assured me that the remaining Division Protective Service Units will be rolled-out to the remaining 19 Garda Divisions, on a phased basis, before the end of Q4 2019, in accordance with the targets set out in ‘A Policing Service for the Future’, the implementation plan giving effect to the recommendations of the Commission for the Future of Policing in Ireland.