cases rise | 

Sexualised images of Irish teens and children being exploited online says Interpol

Reports of sexual images involving children suspected to be Irish are up almost 50% on last year’s figures

Photo: Depositphotos© Diego Cervo

Jamie McDowellSunday World

Gardaí have received 40 notifications from Interpol over child sex abuse material involving Irish children so far this year.

A media briefing heard today how the images, shared by partners or friends of the victims, have made their way online and are being exploited around the globe.

Superintendent Ian Lackey of the Garda National Protective Service Bureau, the unit which investigates such material, said Interpol’s International Child Sexual Exploitation (ICSE) wing reported the images to gardaí, reports the Irish Times.

He said referrals from ICSE involving children suspected to be Irish are up almost 50% on last year’s figures, children featured in the images were usually female, many of the images were produced voluntarily and that most of the images were being exploited for financial gain worldwide.

He said that while a large proportion of those who had shared the images initially were also juveniles, the families of both victims and suspects often expressed “extreme shock” and “disappointment” once gardaí had become involved in investigations.

However, in most instances charges are not brought against child suspects even though the sharing of sexual images of people under the age of 18 is a criminal offence.

He said: “The simple advice is don’t share anything.

“Once the image is shared it is distributed. Unfortunately, these things go viral, or people can fall out.

“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.”

It was heard during the briefing that the vast majority child sexual material is produced in Asia.

Between November 28 and December 1, as part of Operation Ketch, targeting distributors of child sex material in Ireland, gardaí conducted ten searches six counties, in which a number of electronic devices were seized.

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