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Clare Home Searched by Gardaí for Child Pornography

GARDAÍ have searched an address in Clare as part of Operation Ketch 5, which targets suspects involved in the possession and distribution of child pornography.

Searches of 23 properties were made between February 1 and 4 as part of an on-going search and recovery operation targeting suspects involved in the possession and distribution of Child Exploitation Material (Child Pornography) either through Social Network sites or via File Sharing Networks.

The Online Child Exploitation Unit (OnCE) at the Garda National Protection Services Bureau is leading the operation, and involved searches under warrant issued pursuant to the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 in a number of Garda Division throughout the country, including an address in County Clare.

Liaison is being maintained with the Child and Family Agency regarding any child protection concerns that arise. The searches were conducted by the Online Child Exploitation Unit and the newly established Divisional Protection Service Units and local Detective Units.

These searches were conducted in 11 counties across the country, with follow up searches anticipated in the next few days. Other addresses searched in the Mid West included an address in Limerick, and an address in Kerry.
Digital material has been seized for forensic examination at all the addresses searched and it is hoped to identify child protection concerns at each address and to engage with the Child & Family Agency.

The searches will also target persons suspected of possessing, importing and distributing online Child Abuse Material (Child Pornography).

The timing of the operation is to coincide with Safer Internet Day 2019, during which An Garda Síochána will, in conjunction with Webwise, be promoting the ‘Be in Ctrl’ Schools Programme which aims to inform students of the risk of online exploitation, raise awareness regarding safe online behaviour and empower young people to seek help and report incidents to the Gardaí.

The resource deals with online coercion and extortion of children which is a form of digital blackmail, sometimes referred to as ‘sextortion’, where sexual information or images are used to extort sexual material, sexual favours and/or money from children. Included in the resource pack is a 10-minute video, portraying two teenagers, a boy and girl, being exploited online either by a criminal organisation for money or by an individual online sexual offender seeking further sexual material. The video, includes advice as to how such crimes may be reported to An Garda Síochána.

The 3 minute video, #BeInCtrl, which will be shared across social media was created to complement the ‘Be in Ctrl’ teaching resource. The purpose of the video, depicting the stories of two teenagers subjected to online sexual coercion and extortion, is to advise young people of such criminal behaviour, to raise awareness as to how young people may protect themselves online and to advise where they may find help and support. The ultimate aim of the programme is to help young people stay ‘in Ctrl’ of their online lives.

About Carol Byrne

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Carol Byrne is a reporter at The Clare Champion newspaper reporting on news in the East Clare area and the arts. She also covers the courts in County Clare and has received seven national awards for this coverage from the Law Society of Ireland and a National Lottery Local Ireland national media award for Best Community Story 2019. A Masters in Journalism graduate of NUI Galway, she also holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Limerick in Music and Media Studies, and a Higher Diploma in Irish Legal Studies. She began her career interning at The Limerick Leader and Clare FM, before taking up a full time post at The Clare Champion in 2006.

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