Gardaí search Waterford premises as part of Operation Ketch
Operation Ketch, which commenced in February 2018, is a proactive, intelligence-led policing operation co-ordinated by the Garda National Protection Services Bureau (GNPSB). The objectives of this operation are to target persons suspected of possessing, importing and distributing online child abuse material (child pornography). And to identify child protection concerns at suspect addresses and engage with TUSLA. In 2019 to date, a total of 72 addresses have been searched as part of the operation. In 2018,a total 137 addresses were searched during the course Operation Ketch.
The most recent phase of Operation Ketch took place from July 22-25. During this phase, warrants were obtained from district courts pursuant to the Child Trafficking and Pornography Act 1998 and searches were conducted at 14 addresses across the country. The searches were carried out by local Divisional Protection Service Units (DPSU) and Detective Units.
Counties where searches have been carried out in recent days include Waterford (2), Dublin (7), Cork (2), Meath (1), Monaghan (1) and Galway (1).
At each location, gardaí seized digital material for forensic examination. A childlike sex doll was also seized at one of the locations.
There were no arrests planned during this phase of the investigation and follow up searches will be carried out over the coming days. Arrests are expected as individual investigations progress.
Liaison is being maintained between investigating gardaí with the TUSLA, the Child & Family Agency in relation to child protection concerns that have arisen.
“An Garda Síochána wishes to reassure the community, through operations such as this and other ongoing work by the Online Child Exploitation Unit, that we will relentlessly pursue those involved in the possession, importation and distribution of child abuse material. Anyone with information is asked to come forward and contact their local Garda Station or the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111,” a spokesperson said.