CrimeStoppers has ‘effectively ceased’ due to funding shortfall

The tip-off line for the public has no sponsor and there is confusion over which agency should fund rewards

CrimeStoppers advertises rewards for information in relation to missing people, including a €100,000 reward for information about the disappearance of Trevor Deely in Dublin in December 2000. Photograph: Alan Betson

CrimeStoppers, the initiative under which rewards are offered to the public for tip-offs about crimes, has “effectively ceased” amid funding issues and a lack of liaison between its managers and the Garda.

Internal documents, released under the Freedom of Information Act (FOI), show widespread confusion about which agency is responsible for paying rewards for information on missing people cases.

Email records also show trouble finding private sponsors for the CrimeStoppers initiative and problems keeping the website and phone line running.

CrimeStoppers was set up in 1998 to allow people to report crimes to gardaí confidentially. Callers do not have to give their name and in certain cases may receive a cash reward.


It was originally envisioned that it would be funded through sponsorship from private businesses. However in recent years, it has not been able to attract sponsors, leading the departments of Justice and Health to take over funding.

Documents released under FOI show confusion over which department is responsible for paying rewards to the public for information on historic cases, including the disappearance of 13-year-old Philip Cairns in 1986 which is being treated as a murder investigation.

In 2020, a garda contacted the Department of Justice asking for information on a €10,000 reward offered by CrimeStoppers in 2007 for information on the case.

“Following enquiry here I can find no record of such a reward and as such am not in a position to state definitely whether such reward is still extant,” the garda wrote. Other records show neither CrimeStoppers nor department officials knew who was responsible for rewards.

No means to pay

In 2022, another garda contacted the Department of Justice asking if a reward offered in 2008 was still available. They said it was their understanding that the department and not CrimeStoppers would pay the reward.

A department official responded that there was no means to pay out a reward. “I am not sure what source of funding could be offered for an award for relevant information in any individual case,” they said.

CrimeStoppers lost control of its previous website,, which now redirects to an unrelated webpage

Other records show complaints about a lack of co-operation with the Garda relating to CrimeStoppers.

A memo from a March 2021 meeting highlights a “lack of engagement” with the Garda Press Office on high-profile campaigns. “Clarity needs to be given as to what the Press Office’s role is in appeals and what CrimeStoppers do,” it said

CrimeStoppers lost control of its previous website,, which now redirects to an unrelated webpage. The released records show a new website was funded and completed in 2020. It has still not gone live.

Justice officials noted that the CrimeStoppers phoneline, which is manned by gardaí, was still working. However the records show multiple complaints from the public about calls not being answered.

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This included a complaint in May 2020 that the number redirected callers to a software company. A department official encountered the same problem.

In 2019, a Justice official said there had not been significant sponsorship of CrimeStoppers for a number of years and that it had no cash reserves. In February 2021, a Department of Justice official noted that CrimeStoppers faced a “significant cash shortfall” which the department would have to meet.

‘Gradually declined’

CrimeStoppers was previously managed by PR firm MKC Communications. In May 2021, it told the department it was withdrawing from the role, citing the website issues and the fact it had no direct contact point within the Garda. It said it was difficult to see how CrimeStoppers could move forward and that the department should consider “winding up the Trust given the experiences over the last few years”.

The following year, a senior department official wrote that CrimeStoppers had “gradually declined over the past few years and effectively ceased in terms of us paying the external company to run campaigns, maintain a website etc”.

A garda spokeswoman said yesterday that the CrimeStoppers phone line, on 1850 250 025, remained operational. She said that while the business community is no longer involved, discussions are underway between the Department and An Garda Síochána with a view to launching a renewed campaign in the coming months.

A new website is planned as part of the renewed campaign, which will be funded by the Department of Justice.

She also said that offers of rewards for information made by Crimestoppers, which are subject to the receipt of credible information in relation to individual criminal investigations, will be honoured and anyone with information regarding a criminal investigation should contact An Garda Síochána.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times