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AFP supports Northern Ireland Police investigation into institutional abuse

22 January 2023, 8:03am
Media Release

AFP supports Northern Ireland Police investigation into institutional abuse

The AFP is supporting the Police Service of Northern Ireland’s effort to locate women and children affected by institutional abuse between 1922 and 1990 as the search widens to Australia.

The Police Service launched an investigation in 2021 into allegations of abuse within Mother and Baby Institutions, Work Houses and Magdalene Laundries in Northern Ireland and believes victims and witnesses may now live in Australia.

They are appealing for mothers who gave birth in, or anyone who was adopted from institutions in Northern Ireland between 1922 and 1990 to come forward.

These institutions housed many, including pregnant women and girls from 1922 to 1990 in Northern Ireland, who often felt coerced into giving up their child.

Thousands of people are said to have lived in, worked in, or visited these institutions over a 68-year period.

Officers in the dedicated investigation team have now received 88 reports; many of which include allegations of inconsistencies with birth records from those who were adopted from Northern Irish institutions and now live overseas.

Enquires to date suggest that there could be more victims and witnesses out there, with many moving or being adopted to countries overseas like Australia.

The Police Service of Northern Ireland are renewing their appeal and encouraging more people to come forward to report to police and have their voice heard.

They are appealing to anyone currently residing in Australia, mothers who gave birth in one of these institutions in Northern Ireland, was adopted from, visited, or worked there to come forward and report to them. Any information could be helpful.

Detective Superintendent Gary Reid, who is the operational lead for the investigation said:

“As the investigation continues into the Mother and Baby Institutions, Magdalene Laundries and Work Houses in Northern Ireland, we are becoming increasingly aware that the people impacted by these institutions do not just reside in Northern Ireland but could now reside all over the world as far as Australia,” he said.

“We don’t want anyone to feel they have to suffer in silence anymore and we will continue to do all we can to reach as many people with this message as possible.

“We would like to reinforce that this investigation is very much ongoing in Northern Ireland. If you believe you were the victim of abuse or other forms of criminality in any of these Northern Irish institutions, or know somebody who was, or if you witnessed anything suspicious, please contact us, we want to hear from you.

"We care about what you have to say, will listen and support you, and will act to keep you and others safe."

A dedicated reporting system is in place to make it easier for people to report.

If you are a resident of Australia and wish to contact the dedicated Mother and Baby Institutions, Work Houses and Magdalene Laundries Investigative Team in Northern Ireland, you can do so via the following options:


Direct line (Mon-Fri 9am-5pm GMT): 0011 4428 9090 1728     

Media enquiries:

AFP Media: (02) 5126 9297

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