By Kieran O’Mahony
THE West Cork Women Against Violence (WCWAV) project has said it is delighted to finally see a unit to investigate sex crimes and domestic violence incidents opening in Dunmanway – which will also mean an additional 15 jobs for the town.
Operating from the Dunmanway Garda Station, the long-awaited unit will be fully functional by the end of 2019.
Speaking to The Southern Star about the Protective Service Unit (PSU), Marie Mulholland of WCWAV said this announcement means that it will bring a ‘real top notch team with real skills’ to the area.
‘Dunmanway is a good location but I like the fact that the resources are being spread to other towns in the division, and certainly for us it’s accessible as well, as for a lot of our clients,’ said Ms Mulholland.
She praised the division’s Chief Supt Con Cadogan, who, she added, is ‘absolutely committed’ to working in partnership with other services in West Cork to improve protection and intervention rates.
‘There are worrying trends contextually, especially with Brexit, and I think it was really important that he got this PSU in place before other things overtook it. He saw that this needs to be done now and it was good strategic work,’ she said this week.
Chief Supt Cadogan confirmed the news at a meeting of the Cork County Joint Policing Committee (JPC) in County Hall on Monday, pointing out that approximately 100 sexual crimes are reported in the Cork West Division each year. He said the unit will become a ‘centre of excellence’ for dealing with sexual crime, domestic abuse, child abuse and human trafficking.
Difficulties in securing a suitable building to accommodate the unit in Bandon led to an almost 12-month delay in establishing the much-needed unit, the first for this area.
The PSU unit will be overseen by a detective inspector, two detective sergeants, 10 detective gardaí (mix of male and female) and two support staff, who will all undergo training in the next two-to-three weeks at the Garda College in Templemore.
Following a tender process, it will take up to 10 weeks to bring the garda station up to the standard required to put in the team. Some cosmetic internal renovations will include a specialist interview room.
This also means that it will bring 15 new people to work in Dunmanway and Chief Supt Cadogan said that is welcome news for the town, as well as for policing in the area.
Meanwhile, the latest crime figures from January to August of this year show that reports of rape across the three garda divisions of Cork City, Cork North and Cork West are down from 60 incidents, to 41, for the same period last year. Figures for non-aggravated sexual assault remain the same for this year, at 145, across all three divisions.
Prior to this announcement, victims of sexual crime had to travel to Cork city for assessment and interview.