They say confrontations involving vigilante groups have the potential for violence and could affect future criminal proceedings
Gardaí have expressed concern over vigilante groups targeting alleged online paedophiles.
It's after footage emerged on social media of a man being confronted in Co Waterford by a group calling themselves Child Protection Awareness.
The group claims to have used ten decoy children to chat with the man, who allegedly asked some for photographs.
In a statement to mark Safer Internet Day, the Garda Press Office says such confrontations have the potential for violence and could affect future criminal proceedings.
It is asking anyone with information on the potential sexual exploitation of children to report it immediately.
Meanwhile, Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll spoke about the subject of vigilantism at a press conference yesterday.
He was speaking after gardaí seized tens of thousands of child pornography images over the past few days as part of Operation Ketch.
Assistant Commissioner O'Driscoll noted that while gardaí want members of the public to assist them, any efforts by individuals or groups to enforce the law is 'fraught with danger'.
He observed: "There is a danger that people who might otherwise be convicted of offences may not end up in such a scenario, and may go free because of the way in which the particular information has been handled.
"I think it is very important that all evidence and information that has potential to lead to prosecution should be conveyed to An Garda Síochana, and we will deal with it in an effective manner."
He added: "There is the danger - such as over the last number of days, when we have a planned campaign involving an international aspect [...] - that we can be diverted from that well-planned activity in order to tackle the consequences of others attempting, in sometimes a haphazard way, to enforce law in a way that is not lawful."
Reporting by Juliette Gash and Stephen McNeice