Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan. Photo: Provision

Sexual assault reports rise

“I’d like to appeal to everybody that they have nothing to fear and shouldn’t be afraid to come forward.”

Those were the encouraging words of Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan as he spoke this week during a Cork County Joint Policing Committee meeting about the work of the three Protective Services Units (PSU) in Cork and how more people have been coming forward to report certain types of crimes.

The PSUs are in Cork city, Dunmanway and Fermoy and they investigate specialised crime types, including sexual crime, child abuse and domestic abuse.

During the meeting on Monday, the Chief Superintendent also revealed new crime figures which showed that reports of sexual assault (not aggravated) increased in 2021 when compared to 2020 in the three Cork garda divisions. In the Cork City Garda Division, it increased from 90 reports in 2020 to 111 in 2021 while the Cork North Garda Division saw a rise in reports from 28 to 52 and in the Cork West Garda Division from 37 to 41.

Reports of rape of a male or female also increased in the Cork City Garda Division from 44 in 2020 to 46 in 2021 and in the Cork West Garda Division from 15 to 25. However, the Cork North Garda Division had a fall in reports of rape from 28 to 20.

Chief Superintendent Con Cadogan said: “Some of those are historical ones which may be a number of years old. We are delighted that some people see fit to come forward now and trust the systems that have been put in place with the PSUs. It’s very important to say that people should have nothing to fear. We have excellent supports from both statutory and voluntary bodies as well as support from the PSU.”

He continued: “A lot of our cases are historic, there’s no doubt about it. To give you a scenario, we have, unfortunately children who have been sexually abused and were afraid and had a fear of reporting it. We find that when they reach their mid-teens, they have the strength to report it.

“They have the support of family and friends and will make a report then. It’s a very unfortunate situation but that is what happens in reality.”

The chief superintendent also said that people come forward when they see successful cases coming out of the courts.

“When the PSU cases are being highlighted in media, they find that in the aftermath people do come forward. They have trust in the PSU and we are delighted to see that. The PSU is a dedicated service who are very professionally trained. They deal with nothing else and work really well with the voluntary and statutory groups as well as the HSE,” added the Chief Superintendent.

He said: “The knock on from that is you instil confidence in the public. I’d like to appeal to everybody that they have nothing to fear and shouldn’t be afraid to come forward. More and more historic crimes are being reported.”

His comments came after Fianna Fáil TD Aindrias Moynihan and Independent Cllr Ben Dalton O’Sullivan asked him to comment more on the reports sexual crimes and domestic abuse.

He also said people are reporting crimes against the person including such as assaults and domestic violence.

“We are seeing now that people aren’t afraid to report it. We are even seeing since Aisling Murphy’s death that more and people are reporting crimes. And that’s the way it should be. Nobody should be subject to an assault whether it be domestic or any situation and be afraid to report it,” he said.

He said going forward An Garda Síochána will provide any assistance possible to people who are in difficult situations.

Reports of domestic abuse fell in the Cork City Garda Division by one per cent in 2021 when compared to 2021. They rose, however, in the Cork North and Cork West by 14 and nine per cent respectively.