herald

Friday 19 October 2018

'You will be exposed', say gardai as 31 homes searched for child porn

Det Superintendent Declan Daly issued the stark warning
Det Superintendent Declan Daly issued the stark warning

Gardai have issued a stark warning to those who possess and distribute child pornography following the raids of 31 homes across 12 counties.

Authorities seized computers and phones containing "tens of thousands" of child abuse images shared via social network sites or file-sharing networks.

Detective Superintendent Declan Daly, of the Garda National Protection Services Bureau, warned those in possession on child porn: "Your homes will be searched, your sexual interests in children will be exposed and will ultimately result in a possible prosecution or conviction.

Warning

"The raids should serve as a stark warning to those who possess and distribute such imagery."

The seizures, carried out across 12 counties, occurred over the past three days under Operation Ketch.

Gardai say arrests are expected over the next several days and weeks although they could not confirm whether the children in the images were residents in Ireland.

Det Supt Daly added that the evidence-gathering phase of the operation is now complete.

"The task of conducting individual investigations involving the examination of media seized and the arrests of the subjects begins now.

"Additionally, the operation should provide a level of assurance to the public of the critical importance placed on child protection by An Garda Siochana," he said.

Det Supt Daly said those typically involved in viewing and distributing child porn are male, professional, aged between 25 and 50 and with medium to advanced IT skills.

He added the common perception of a culprit operating out of a basement or in a dark room is often not the case at all.

Priority

A key priority of Operation Ketch is also to try and establish if any of the children featured in the indecent images remain in danger.

The operation was led by the Online Child Exploitation Unit (OnCE) and the Garda National Protection Services Bureau.

Searches began last Saturday and continued yesterday in homes across Dublin, Wicklow, Kildare, Limerick, Kerry and Waterford. Detective Superintendent Michael Daly said that efforts are underway to maximise a successful outcome in any prosecution made.

"During the time of recession, we were used to queues and delays and backlogs. Those delays were a feature of austerity are very much a thing of the past.

"Members of the Garda Siochana that were walking the beat in Dublin last year are now on new beat - they're patrolling the internet," he said.

He also urged parents and children to use the internet safely and to report all cases of cyber criminality.

When asked about vigilante groups that target paedophiles online, Assistant Commissioner John O'Driscoll said these groups have the capacity to hinder garda operations.

"For anyone else to go about to try and enforce the law, it is fraught with danger.

"There is a danger that people who might otherwise be convicted of offences may not end up in such a scenario and may go free because of the way in which the information has been handled," he said.

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