Regional garda units to tackle domestic abuse and sexual offences

The National Women's Council has welcomed the move

Regional garda units to tackle domestic abuse and sexual offences

Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan (centre) at the Policing Authority meeting in Dublin | Image: RollingNews.ie

The Garda Commissioner has announced plans for regional units to tackle domestic abuse and sexual offences.

The National Women's Council of Ireland (NWCI) has welcomed the move by Nóirín O'Sullivan.

The Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault Investigation Unit (DVSAIU) provides advice, guidance and assistance to gardaí investigating child sexual abuse, other sexual crimes and domestic violence.

The unit also leads the investigation in more complex cases.

Director of NWCI, Orla O'Connor, says: "This is a very positive announcement by the Garda Commissioner, in order to respond to and investigate crimes of domestic abuse and sexual offences more effectively.

"NWCI have been calling for these specialist units since 2014.

"These developments are a welcome sign of the increased prioritisation of these crimes within An Garda Síochána."

The NWCI says one in five women experience physical and or sexual violence in Ireland.

The establishment of the new units and development of risk assessment were both recommendations of the 2015 Garda Inspectorate Report.

"Ireland has been consistently criticised at UN level for its low numbers of women reporting domestic and sexual abuse, and also for its high attrition rates with regard to sexual crimes", Ms O'Connor continues.

"We know that only 29% of women who have experienced severe abuse report it to gardaí, and that high numbers drop out of the criminal justice system.

"It is essential that gardaí assigned to the new units are provided with appropriate training to ensure they have an understanding of the issues surrounding domestic abuse and sexual crimes and of the complexities of abuse in intimate relationships."