Donegal Gardai are to increase the number of officers in their sexual violence unit after a 50% increase in sex crimes including rape and sexual assaults.
Chief Superintendent Terry McGinn revealed how there had been a notable increase in such crimes since the pandemic.
Because of this she had take the decision to transfer more resources into this area.
The Chief Superintendent said she had applied to the National Executive of the force to make a decision.
However, the move will not mean new officers but rather she will have to “rob Peter to pay Paul” and move officers around in various divisions.
She told a meeting of the Joint Policing Committee that crimes against young women including rape in the 17 to 19 years age category had been significant.
She added that it will take time to upskill officers but that she has been given permission to do that.
“It means that I’m moving people from the investigations of drugs and other crimes but it will have to be done. It will take a while to scale up.
“Each member is carrying big case loads of sexual assault and domestic violence on their books at the moment. I would normally centralise them but I’m going to move them out to the divisions so we can get a handle on the numbers.
“By the time we would get to them it would be six or eight months again we take them on.
“Some of these victims are vulnerable, some have special needs and sometimes there are children involved, so we can’t possibly hold these a long time before dealing with them.”
Chief Superintendent McGinn said she was concerned at having to move Gardai around from other units but she had no choice at present.
“Bringing guards from other units, which are of equally high importance, is concerning. It seems to be a resources issue.”
“We are robbing Peter to pay Paul, but I’m confident that we are making the right decision and not just putting people around on a chessboard.”
The issue was raised by chairman of the Joint Policing Committee Gerry McMonagle who had said he understood there was a major rise in reporting of domestic and sexual violence in Donegal.
He also raised the issues of reporting of drink-spiking amongst young people.
He added “We need to support our Gardai in any way we can. We will continue to lobby for more support on the ground as it is blatantly obvious that it is needed now more than ever.”