Belfast Telegraph

Child sex dolls seized during searches by Garda exploitation unit

It is the first time such items have been found in a home in Ireland.

A number of child sex dolls have been seized from a residence during searches by the Garda online child exploitation unit.

Gardai say although there have been instances in Ireland where dolls were seized by customs, this is the first time they have been found in a home, and labelled it a cause for extreme concern.

The searches were carried out under Operation Ketch ll, which targets suspects who possess, import and distribute online child abuse material.

Between July 23 and July 26 search warrants were executed in 31 addresses across 15 counties.

Although still in the early stages of the operation, Garda personnel say they expect the final tally of video and images to be in the hundreds of thousands.

In just one residence, terabytes of material were seized which amounts to over 1,000 hours of child abuse video imagery.

What we can’t do is change the mindset of those who have a desire to engage in this activity and it’s a matter of considerable concern and one for society to address John O'Driscoll, assistant commissioner

At least 31 people are being interviewed, ranging in age from teenagers to pensioners, however no arrests have been made.

Two of the suspects identified in the operations are juveniles and have been referred to the Juvenile Diversion Programme.

Gardai confirmed that there were children living at some of the addresses that were searched, however every search presented a child safety concern.

Assistant Commissioner John O’Driscoll said: “We are in contact with the Child and Family Agency, in all these cases there is a person in that residence with a sexual interest in children and that is always a child safety concern whether there are children in that home or not.”

Mr O’Driscoll said that a total of seven suspects had already made admissions regarding their online activity.

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The probe is targeting online abuse (Adam Peck/PA)

“What we can’t do is change the mindset of those who have a desire to engage in this activity and it’s a matter of considerable concern and one for society to address.

“We enforce the law through these operations and we’re highlighting the extent to which this is taking place, and bringing those who commit crimes before the courts.

“This is a growing phenomenon, it’s a challenge for law enforcement at international level and we seek assistance of everyone who has input, including private entities that supply services whereby imagery is accessed.

“There is a lot of profit being made off this and I’d like to see an effort to tackle how people are accessing these images,” he said.

Garda personnel who are studying the imagery have been offered counselling and welfare services.

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