The head of the Garda Protective Services Unit in Cork has encouraged people to "put their faith in the system" with relation to rape and sexual assault.
The appeal comes after figures released by the Sexual Violence Centre Cork (SVCC) which show 55% of sexual assault and rape victims do not report the crime to the Gardaí.
Detective Inspector Eileen Foster heads the unit which investigates sexual assaults, domestic violence, human trafficking and child protection issues.
“We can only deal with what comes to us,” she said. “Reporting figures have increased, which is encouraging.”
Detective Inspector Foster said she would ask people to use their services for advice, even if they do not want to take the case to the courts.
“We encourage people to use the unit. It is a new unit, we offer a sensitive, non-judgemental and confidential service to people.
“Also we can offer advice. Some people are not ready to press charges and we are not going to make someone go ahead with something they don’t want to do.” Detective Inspector Foster reminded people there is no time limit on taking a case, although the sooner is usually better.
“The best evidence is within a certain time frame, CCTV or forensic evidence, it is better to have the case managed early.
“We do the best we can for people,” Detective Inspector Foster said, “Obviously we want to bring the person to justice.
“We are a supportive unit but for the safety of the public, we would like to take these people out of circulation.” Director of the SVCC centre Mary Crilly said in an ideal world all perpetrators would be reported but often the situation is very complicated.
“Almost 80% of perpetrators are known to the victim, which makes it a very difficult situation to be in.
“Victim blaming is a big problem. You have victims feeling ashamed about what has happened to them and it is nobody’s fault.
“Hopefully investigations will be more thorough with the new unit, but the big problem is when a young woman is raped.
“When a guy or an old woman is raped, it is a very definite crime. People are horrified.
“But when it is a young woman or girl, it is a grey area, people ask, well what did she do?” Ms Crilly said rape is rape no matter who the victim.
“Whether it is a guy or a girl, young or old, it is the same thing.”