1. Funding for the provision of freezers to store forensic evidence collected from people who attend Sexual Assault Treatment Units (SATUS)

Funding for provision of freezers to store forensic evidence collected from people who attend Sexual Assault Treatment Units (SATUs)

 

Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., Minister for Justice and Equality recently announced that her Department will fund the provision of  freezers to store forensic evidence collected from people who attend Sexual Assault Treatment Units (located in Dublin, Mullingar, Galway, Cork, Waterford and Letterkenny), but who do not immediately wish to report the matter to An Garda Síochána.  The funding also covers the cost of freezer monitoring to ensure that robust evidence of appropriate storage of forensic samples may be recorded and produced in court if required.

 

The Minister said "I wish to commend the staff of sexual assault treatment units for the dedicated and professional manner in which they deliver a challenging and sensitive service. I hope this investment will assist in the processes of investigation and prosecution of sexual crime; and in turn lead to more reporting of sexual crimes to An Garda Síochána."

 

The current options for a victim of a sexual crime attending a sexual assault treatment unit are to receive medical treatment only, or if the incident is reported to An Garda Síochána to also have a forensic examination with the gathering of evidence. These freezers will permit a third option, where a victim may not wish to involve An Garda Síochána immediately. Evidence can be gathered and securely stored for up to a year. During this time the victim may decide to report to An Garda Síochána and the stored evidence can then be transferred to Garda custody for use in the investigation. Protocols agreed with An Garda Síochána and the Office of the Director of Public Prosecutions will ensure the evidence collected, stored and later transferred will meet all the evidential requirements for prosecution.  The protocols also address the disposal of the samples where the victim does not report within the year.   The Minister believes that this facility may improve the potential for the reporting of and subsequent successful prosecution of sexual crimes.  The availability of forensic evidence in support of allegations often leads to a guilty plea being entered.  This can significantly reduce the trauma of a trial for a victim of sexual violence.