Members of the new Garda Divisional Services Protective Unit pictured with Chief Supt Dominic Hayes at Kilkenny Garda Station PICTURE: PAT MOORE
A new special garda unit has been established in Kilkenny specifically to tackle serious sexual crimes, including rape, abuse of children and vulnerable people and online exploitation.
The 14-person Divisional Protective Services Unit is headquartered in Kilkenny Garda Station, but covers all of the Carlow-Kilkenny and Thomastown Districts.
Its members were chosen via a rigorous selection process, and they have received additional training.
The dedicated unit - one of six in the country - is already up and running and has taken on its first cases.
It is tasked with dealing with sensitive investigations in areas such as sexual assault, domestic violence, familial abuse, historic allegations, and child pornography.
At a launch event at Kilkenny Garda Station on Monday, Chief Superintendent Dominic Hayes said the DPSU would be “proactive as well as reactive”. Specialist interviewers for young victims are also part of the team.
In addition to its investigatory role, the new unit has an advisory role. The official launch was attended by partner agencies including Túsla, Women’s Aid and other stakeholders.