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Gardaí raid 10 properties across Ireland in online child sexual abuse investigation

Suspects with addresses in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Louth, and Wicklow were all targeted between November 28 and December 1.

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Neasa CumiskeySunday World

Gardaí searched ten properties across six counties last week as part of a crackdown on the distribution of child pornography and other exploitative materials.

Suspects with addresses in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Galway, Louth, and Wicklow were all targeted by local Divisional Protection Service Units (DPSUs) and detective units between November 28 and December 1.

Gardaí used enhanced access to Interpol’s International Child Sexual Exploitation’s (ICSE) database to identify suspects and carry out intelligence-led searches with warrants under the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998.

The searches will help identify offenders who are using peer to peer file sharing and/or social media platforms to share, distribute, and possess child sexual exploitation material.

Various items of digital material were seized for forensic examination during this operation.

Gardaí continue to liaise with TUSLA in relation to child protection concerns that arise.

These searches were coordinated by the Online Child Exploitation Unit (OnCE) attached the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB) and were carried out under Operation Ketch, an intelligence-led operation targeting suspected possessors and distributors of Online Child Sexual Exploitation Material Contrary to the Child Trafficking and Pornography act 1998.

The operation was initiated by the Online Child Exploitation Unit at the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNPSB).

To date in 2022, the OnCE Unit has referred more than 700 investigation files to local Divisional Protective Services Units for investigation.

In September this year, Interpol provided training to members of the GNPSB and the Garda National Cyber Crime Bureau (GNCCB) on the ICSE database, a tool used by specialised investigators to share data on cases of child sexual abuse around the world.

The database holds more than 4.3 million images and videos and has helped identify more than 30,000 victims and in excess of 13,000 offenders, worldwide.

68 countries are connected to the ICSE database and through its usage, on average, seven victims are identified every day.

An Garda Síochána has contributed to the ICSE database, which has “significantly enhanced” the OnCE Unit’s work in identifying Child Sexual Exploitation victims.

Speaking today, Detective Superintendent Lackey of Garda National Protective Service Bureau said: “Persons accessing, viewing and distributing child sexual abuse material need to recognise that this is not a victimless crime.

"In fact, the young victims of this criminal activity are amongst the most vulnerable victims in our society in Ireland and internationally.

“An Garda Síochána is working and will continue to work closely with all our international partners to target, disrupt and bring to justice anyone involved in the accessing, distribution and production of this criminal sexual abuse material.”


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