Thursday, 8 March 2018

Questions (226)

Jim O'Callaghan

Question:

226. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of times officials from his Department met with officials from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs since the publication of the 2012 Garda Inspectorate Report Responding to Child Sexual Abuse in relation to that report; the dates of those meetings; the persons that attended those meetings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11657/18]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The 2012 Garda Inspectorate Report on Responding to Child Sexual Abuse made a total of 29 recommendations for improving the handling of child sexual abuse from a policing perspective. In particular, the report proposed new or enhanced arrangements in areas such as training and specialisation, inter-agency working, services to victims, investigative strategies and procedures, and crime counting and recording. The great majority of these recommendations were of an operational nature and addressed specifically to An Garda Síochána, with some requiring the inputs of other agencies and in particular the HSE (subsequently Tusla). None of these recommendations were addressed to my Department and there is no record of a meeting having been convened between my Department and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs specifically in relation to the report; there would, however, be regular contacts between the two Departments on a range of issues of mutual interest.

As the Deputy will be aware, my predecessor, requested the Garda Inspectorate to carry out a follow-up review of the 2012 Report with a view to ensuring that progress in this crucial area continued to be monitored and further developments or requirements identified. The outcome of that review, as published by me on 27 February, provides a valuable policy resource for developing better services and protections to children who are victims of, or at risk of, sexual crime.

As I announced upon publishing the Inspectorate's new report, the Government has agreed to my proposal to establish an independently chaired, cross-sectoral Implementation Group to ensure that the report's recommendations are addressed in a timely, thorough and effective manner and on a whole-of-Government basis. The Group shall report on a quarterly basis to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy and shall be chaired by Ms. Caroline Biggs SC, who is an acknowledged expert in criminal law with a particular interest in the investigation and prosecution of child sexual abuse.

Separately, I am also referring the new Inspectorate report to the Policing Authority under section 117A(2) of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (as amended), with regard to the Authority’s statutory role in monitoring, assessing and reporting to the Minister on the measures taken by the Garda Síochána in relation to recommendations made in a report of the Inspectorate.