Speaking today on the publication of the Central Statistics Office recorded crime statistics for the twelve month period ending with the third quarter of 2013, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD, called attention to the continued reduction in most crime categories, and a total reduction of more than 17,500 crimes over the previous 12 month period.

The CSO figures show reductions or no change in 12 out of the 14 categories for which figures are given, and an overall reduction in crime of 7.1% (248,685 in 2012 to 231,029 in 2013).

The continued impact of Garda operations on burglary is reflected in a significant fall of 10.4% in this category of offence, further accelerating the reductions seen since earlier this year. Robbery is also down, by 5.2% (from 2,861 to 2,713). "The continued determination of An Garda Síochána to target and bring to justice the gangs and individuals involved in burglary and robbery has been evident in a number of high profile arrests in recent weeks," the Minister said, "and these figures clearly illustrate the success across the board, and throughout the country, of Operation Fiacla and other Garda measures to tackle property crime. At the end of November 2013, Operation Fiacla had led to the arrest of 7,341 persons, and to 4,177 persons been charged under the operation. This is a clear demonstration of the effectiveness of intelligence led and targeted initiatives, and I wish to pay tribute to the Commissioner and the members of An Garda Síochána for their success in disrupting criminal activities. "

While homicide offences remain at the same level as for the previous 12 months, this incorporates a reduction in murder and manslaughter, offset by an increase in the number of cases of dangerous driving leading to death. The Minister welcomed these reductions but repeated his call for continued vigilance by all road users so as to reduce the number of deaths and serious injuries on the roads. "The Garda Commissioner has made it clear that An Garda Síochána is determined to ensure the enforcement of road traffic laws, particularly with regard to mandatory alcohol testing and excessive speed. It is incumbent on all of us, especially at this time of year, to drive safely and with care and to comply with the law. Unfortunately, it has been the experience that avoidable road fatalities occur over the Christmas period. I urge all drivers to act responsibly to ensure that they do not bring unexpected tragedy to their family or to any other family in the State. Christmas should be a time for celebration and not for mourning".

Many of the crimes which affect quality of life in the community were also down in the latest figures, including public order offences (down 7,159 or 15.9%), assaults, threats and harassment (down 1,556 or 9.8%) and damage to property (down 3,570 or 10.8%).

The Minister expressed concern at the increase of 3.6% in the number of theft offences, including worrying increases in theft from the person and from shops. This trend has already been targeted by Gardaí in a range of operational measures, as well as prominent awareness raising campaigns highlighting smartphone and similar thefts. Speaking on this, Minister Shatter added, "I urge everyone to take great care with regard to where they keep their mobile phones, particularly in the lead into Christmas and over the holiday period. Don’t give an unintended Christmas present of your mobile phone to a thief. A great deal can be done by each of us to ensure our phones are safe. For example, never leave your phone unattended in your car. Also, when you are not using your phone, ensure that it is safe and secure in your pocket or handbag. Simple and straightforward precautions such as these can have a real impact in reducing mobile phone theft offence."

With regard to subversive crime by criminal terrorists the Minister added, "I want to congratulate the Gardaí and the PSNI for their ongoing focused commitment to bring before the courts those engaged in subversion on this Island and for the many successes achieved by them over the past 12 months in seizing weapons and explosive materials and in intervening to protect all of us on this Island from the threats posed to life and limb by those intent on turning the clock back to the days prior to the Good Friday Agreement."

The Minister concluded by saying that "The latest CSO statistics demonstrate a continuing downward trend in crime. A number of important recent arrests by An Garda Síochána also clearly demonstrate the effectiveness of recently enacted criminal law legislation in assisting the Gardaí in the investigation of crime. We need to be vigilant, and not be under any illusions about the many difficulties and complexities in tackling crime, but it is clear that An Garda Síochána are confronting crime at all levels, and they continue to have my full support . I wish all members of the Garda Force well over the Christmas period."

19 December 2013