Red tape delaying garda sex crime investigations for up to 12 months

Sex crime inquiries face 12-month delays as gardai are forced through red tape to access data.

Rape and sexual assault probes, death threats and other cases must all obtain data from social media sites if crimes were committed online.

Difficulties arise when mutual assistance requests must be made through the US embassy to obtain the data stored on American computer servers.

A source said: “Most social media platforms retain their data outside the State, primarily the USA, so the investigator has to put a preservation request in with the social media provider on the identified accounts.

“Then a mutual assistance request must be drafted and submitted through the channels to the DPP and Department of Justice for sign off then served on the relevant embassy.

“This is transmitted to their relevant authorities they then have to go before their local courts obtain a warrant serve it on the social media provider.

“They return the required data through the same channels so by the time it gets back to the investigator you are looking at up to 12 months.”

There are also issues on examining mobile phones and computers.

A source explained: “There are insufficient members trained to forensically interrogate the device.

“If it’s a laptop or PC you might get an update when you put in your retirement papers.

“We have been criticised in courts for delays in examining computers.

“We have warehouses full of computers seized for the suspected distribution of child pornography and not being examined because of insufficient trained members.”

A Garda spokesman said the probes were made difficult because of the work needed to examine devices.

He added: “They can be complex and laborious with many jurisdictions.

“We liaise with many agencies including Europol. Interpol and Mutual Assistance through the Justice Department.

“We endeavour to utilise our own cyber-crime investigators with the social media firms to bring these investigations to a successful conclusion.”

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