The Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) has said she is conscious of the impact that backlogs and delays in the criminal justice system, caused by the Covid-19 pandemic, are having on victims, witnesses and those accused of crime.

In her first speech to the Annual National Prosecutors' Conference, the DPP Catherine Pierse warned: "The aftermath of the pandemic is combining with the increase in case files over recent years, resulting in backlogs and delays in a number of areas."

She said it was also important for those working in the justice system to keep up with new types of crime, including virtual currencies which can be used by criminals to store illegal wealth.

"So much organised crime is now enabled online, with actors operating in different jurisdictions," Ms Pierse said.

She said that in 2021, her office had recovered €6.5 million in assets, up from €2.2m in 2020.

"This is an area in which my office has been developing and providing increased training to gardaí. It is an area that we intend to continue to develop," she told the conference which was attended by more than 300 people across the criminal justice system including members of the judiciary and An Garda Síochána.

She said it was important to be able to continue to communicate with the public to build trust and confidence in the prosecution system, adding: "We know that many victims find a decision not to prosecute distressing and some victims feel rejected and disbelieved.

"It is important for us to communicate that a decision not to prosecute does not mean that a victim is not believed."

Ms Pierse said in the vast majority of cases, this decision is taken where evidence is not sufficient and there is no reasonable prospect of a conviction.

She said it was important that letters to victims did not re-traumatise them, whilst preserving the suspect's presumption of innocence.

"It is incumbent on the criminal justice system to try to adapt to the needs of a vulnerable witness and not the other way around," Ms Pierse said.