Some 14% ‘insensitively’ treated by gardaí over sexual violence report

More than one in five sexually abused under-13s had been abused by other children

Some 14 per cent of people who reported sexual violence found the garda handling of their case was “insensitive”, a report from Rape Crisis Network Ireland shows.

Survivors felt their complaint was not taken seriously and gardaí were “dismissive, disinterested, unsympathetic and unsupportive”, the report said.

A further one third of those who reported sexual violence said their treatment was “neutral” while more than half said they were treated sensitively.

The National Rape Crisis Statistics 2013 reports for the first time on survivors’ experiences of dealing with gardaí.


It found in more than 40 per cent of cases, gardaí did not maintain ongoing contact. Almost 60 per cent of survivors said they received updates on the progress of their case.

Only 36 per cent of all survivors who attended rape crisis centres in 2013 had reported the sexual violence to a formal authority, the report said.

The report also highlighted that more than one in five of under-13s who were sexually abused had been abused by other children. It found that 14 per cent of all perpetrators of sexual violence were children.

Some 32,000 people rang the organisation’s helpline in 2013 and almost 2,500 visited 15 rape crisis centres for counselling and support.

Clíona Saidléar, acting director of the organisation, said there was a stereotyped notion of what child sexual abuse involves; the very young child and the much older predator. “There is a lot more going on in terms of the vulnerability of children,” she said.

There was a good opportunity to intervene and to have “a really good success rate in terms of prevention”, she said.

“There really needs to be a concerted response to prevent sexual violence of this nature and really to prevent these children growing up to be adult perpetrators,” she said.

Ms Saidléar highlighted the importance of being able to assess Garda services and said the figure of 14 per cent who were dissatisfied with their treatment by gardaí was “unacceptably high”.

It was crucial for survivors that they are respected throughout the process, which often meant gardaí just keeping in touch with them during the investigation, she said. “It is a simple thing; it doesn’t require extra resources and it is something that we can change tomorrow.”

Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald, who launched the report, described sexual violence as "the dark underside of every modern society".

A root and branch reform was necessary in the way gardaí deal with victims of crime, child sexual abuse and rape, she said. A cultural change was also needed, she said.

“Attitudes are deeply embedded in Ireland about rape and domestic violence and not just the gardaí but all of us need to challenge those attitudes and make sure this heinous crime … is dealt with in a very serious way and in a very professional way,” she said.

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland

Fiona Gartland is a crime writer and former Irish Times journalist