The Human Trafficking Investigation and Co-ordination Unit (HTICU), within the Garda National Protective Services Bureau, is deemed to be Ireland's "competent authority" in regards to the identification of victims.
- HTICU has particular expertise in regard to trafficking in human beings. This important Unit has overseen all investigations where there is an element of human trafficking and provided advice, guidance and operational support for investigations.
- In 2015 operational command of the HTICU was moved from the Garda National Immigration Bureau (GNIB) to the Garda National Protective Services Bureau (GNSPB). The GNPSB was established in 2015 and brings issues relating to human trafficking as well as child protection, domestic and sexual violence and general supports to victims under the command of a Chief Superintendent.
- The inclusion of HTICU within GNPSB instead of GNIB where it was formerly situated means that HTICU has now been placed under a structure that is separate from immigration control, a suggestion which was made in report of the first GRETA evaluation round of Ireland in 2013.
- Potential human trafficking victims are referred to HTICU for identification and investigation into their allegations. Referrals to HTICU can come from Governmental bodies, NGOs, law enforcement agencies or private citizens. HTICU will accept referrals from any concerned individual or agency.
- Carrying out this function involves HTICU in ensuring where they come into contact with, or are notified of the existence of, a potential victim of human trafficking that they immediately contact a range of service providers to ensure that the immediate needs of these potential victims are met. This includes ensuring that potential victims are immediately provided with accommodation (through the Reception and Integration Agency, or Tusla in the case of children), health and psychological services (through the Health Service Executive, or Tusla in the case of children) and legal advice (through the Legal Aid Board).
- In carrying out this role, HTICU work extremely closely with a range of State and Civil Society groups who have roles in supporting victims of human trafficking to ensure that the needs of victims are met and that their rights are vindicated.
- Much work has been undertaken to date to provide extensive training to members of An Garda Síochána on all aspects of human trafficking including indicators, identification, victim support and protection, prosecutions and convictions.