Gardaí need new powers to combat child sexual exploitation

Currently Gardaí who have a reasonable suspicion about an individual do not have the power to seize and search the suspect’s mobile phone.

The law as it stands does not reflect the gravity of the fact that mobile phones are just as powerful as desktop computers. Most modern mobile phones have the memory capability to store thousands of images and video files that constitute child pornography.

This is in addition to capacity to store text and visual evidence of grooming, solicitation and sexual exploitation.

In fact, according to the Special Rapporteur on Child Protection, Professor Geoffrey Shannon, who recently published a paper on this subject – mobile phones with sexual exploitation images or evidence of grooming should be treated as crime scenes.

I would also like to echo Professor Shannon’s call for new powers to request information from technology companies like Facebook and Google with offices in Ireland.

An Garda Síochána should be afforded powers to obtain a production order in respect of data that is either ‘held or accessible’ by content providers based in Ireland.

New legislation dealing with the capabilities of the latest technology must be introduced as a matter of urgency – the protection of vulnerable children should always be our top priority!

© Catherine Noone – Dublin Senator 2011. | Wordpress Webdesign by: exSite