Meeting in Public


Policing Authority publishes Oversight of Policing Response to Child Sexual Abuse

The Policing Authority has today published its Oversight of Policing Response to Child Sexual Abuse, highlighting the progress made and areas needing attention in addressing this critical issue.


The report includes a particular focus on the Garda Síochána Inspectorate's (GSI) 2017 review, Responding to Child Sexual Abuse - a Follow-up Review, which aimed to align Ireland's child protection practices with international standards. The recommendations outlined in the GSI report focused on improving working arrangements within the Garda Síochána and enhancing multi-agency collaboration at both strategic and operational levels.


Speaking on the publication of the report, Dr Elaine Byrne BL, Chair of the Policing Authority stated that:


“The sexual abuse of children is an abomination. The oversight of policing with regard to this horrific crime is a priority for not only the Policing Authority, but the Irish public.  The original Garda Inspectorate report identified a number of concerns about the investigation of child sexual abuse. Given the seriousness of this crime and its life-long, devastating impact on the lives of children and their families, the Authority is pleased to note that substantial progress has been made in implementing these recommendations, and improving the service offered to these very vulnerable victims. The Authority commends the commitment at strategic level within the Garda Síochána towards improving the service provided to child victims at a most difficult and vulnerable point in their lives. The importance of this work cannot be overstated. It is life saving.


Policing performance highlights in 2023 include:


  • Multi-agency working: Significant progress was made in implementing electronic child abuse notification systems and a Memorandum of Understanding with Tusla was signed to enhance data sharing, improving governance and efficiency in child protection efforts.
  • Divisional Protective Service Units (DPSUs): DPSUs have been instrumental in providing specialised services to vulnerable victims. Capacity-building efforts, particularly in training, have been ongoing to ensure DPSUs can deliver expert assistance effectively.
  • Addressing delays in progressing investigations: While concerns remain about delays, notable progress was made in enhancing the capacity of the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau to expedite analysis of seized devices, and to reduce backlogs.
  • Joint training for Specialist Victim Interviewers (SVIs) Joint training for Specialist Victim Interviewers recommenced between Tusla and the Garda Síochána in 2023.


While good progress has been made in several important areas, the Authority would nevertheless stress that attention needs to be directed towards a number of areas, including:


  • Ensuring sufficient availability of joint Tusla and Garda Síochána Specialist Victim Interviewers.
  • Protecting vulnerable children in State care who are at risk of sexual exploitation.
  • Maximising resources at national and divisional levels.
  • Prioritising member well-being, given the potentially traumatic nature of the work.