Minister Flanagan notes publication by the Central Statistics Office of the Recorded Crime Statistics for Q1, 2020

 

19 June 2020

 

 

 

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., today noted the publication of Recorded Crime Statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for Q1 2020.

 

Minister Flanagan said:

 

“The CSO performs a vital role in identifying and analysing crime trends across the State.  Today’s release is a valuable addition to that body of work and provides us with the first picture of crime trends this year.

 

“The Covid-19 pandemic and associated public health restrictions introduced in March will no doubt have had an impact on crime in the reporting period. This makes direct comparisons difficult. Nonetheless, a number of trends appear from these figures and in particular from the 5-year analysis provided by the CSO.”

 

The CSO analysis shows that in Q1 of 2020 and compared to the same period in 2019, there were decreases across a range of crime categories, including homicide and related offences (-16.9%); sexual offences (-4.6%); dangerous or negligent acts (-1.4%); kidnapping and related offences (-3.6%); robbery, extortion and hijacking offences (-4.7%); burglary and related offences (-1.9%); theft and related offences (0.4%); damage to property and the environment (-1.7%); public order and other social code offences (-2.5%); and offences against Government, justice procedures and organisation of crime (-4.7%).

 

The CSO also identifies increases in controlled drug offences (15.7%), fraud and deception (14.9%), weapons and explosives offences (11.3%) and attempts or threats to murder and assaults (2.1%).

 

Commenting on the increase in drugs offences recorded in Q1, 2020, Minister Flanagan said:

 

“I note with concern the increase in drug-related offences this year. Illicit drugs leave a terrible impact not only on those directly involved in their sale and consumption but on all of our communities, through their contribution to increased criminality. I believe that the increasing detection of these crimes and in particular the significant increase in recorded instances of importation of drugs (over 107%) demonstrates that Gardaí are continuing to make gains in the ongoing challenge of disrupting the illicit drugs trade in Ireland.”

 

The Minister added:

 

“I note too the more than doubling of cases in which persons have been detected driving while under the influence of drugs, an increase from 715 incidents in Q1 2020 to 1540 in Q1 2020, although driving while over the legal alcohol limit has decreased by 11% in the same time period. Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs represents an extraordinary act of recklessness and indifference towards the safety and wellbeing of others and I condemn it utterly. These statistics emphasise the value of An Garda Síochána’s focus on intercepting and detecting perpetrators of these reckless crimes.”

 

Regarding the almost 15% increase in recorded incidents of fraud and deception, the Minister said,

 

“This increase of over a thousand recorded incidents of fraud and deception underscores the point made recently by Gardaí regarding the increasing activity of criminals in this area, including in particular online scams and financial fraud.  We must all be vigilant to such attempted frauds and report any instances to Gardaí.

 

“I believe this increase is also reflective of a significant step-up in recording of incidents and policing activity in relation to fraud, including through the training offered by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau continue to officers at a Divisional level, allowing local Gardaí to continually improve their expertise and awareness of crimes of this nature.”

 

Commenting on the significant increase in prostitution-related offences compared to Q1 2019 (an increase of 171%, from 38 to 103 instances), Minister Flanagan said:

 

“I note the significant increase in prostitution related offences compared to last year.  It is timely that the review of the Criminal Justice (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 will commence in the near future.  I will shortly announce the Terms of Reference of this important review. I can already commit that the review will be conducted independently and in an open and consultative manner.  It will take a broad approach to ensure consideration of the full range of issues raised in relation to the purchase of sex. I look forward to the recommendations which will come from that process.”

 

The CSO release also identifies crime statistics over the 5-year period from Q1 2016 to Q1 2020.

 

It shows that in this 5 year period, there have been increases across a number of crime categories, including Sexual offences (+34%); Attempts/threats to murder, assaults, harassments and related offences (+25%); dangerous or negligent acts (+21%); Fraud, deception and related offences (+44%); Controlled drug offences (+43%); Weapons and explosives offences (+19%); and Offences against Government, justice procedures and organisation of crime (+31%).

 

Meanwhile, across the same 5-year period there have been decreases across a range of crime categories, including Homicide and related offences (-29%); Kidnapping and related offences (-8%); Robbery, extortion and hijacking offences (-5%); Burglary and related offences (-30%); Theft and related offences (-8%); Damage to property and the environment (-14%); and Public order and other social code offences (-3%).

 

Reflecting on the 5-year trends, Minister Flanagan continued:

 

“I am concerned to see the increases in a number of crime categories over this 5-year period, including sexual offences. This may be partly accounted for by increased reporting of these crimes, which I strongly encourage. I can assure everyone concerned that preventing and addressing sexual violence remains a key priority.  An Garda Síochána has now established 16 Divisional Protective Service Units across 15 Garda divisions and this roll-out is continuing. I would encourage any person who suffers from this grievous crime to please come forward and report it to An Garda Síochána.  Support and services are available to support you, even now during the Covid-19 pandemic. Further information on those supports is available on the website www.stillhere.ie.

 

“It is also incumbent on all of society to continue to examine behaviour and attitudes in relation to sexual crime.  My Department last year commenced the ‘No Excuses’ public awareness campaign which aims to increase awareness of sexual violence and to bring about changes in societal attitudes.”

 

“While these 5-year trends demonstrate a continuing challenge in some areas, in particular assault and drugs offences, we should acknowledge too that Gardaí are continuing to have a significant positive impact on a range of crime types. For example, these figures show a clear downward trend in burglaries over the last 5-year period, with a 30% reduction in burglaries and related offences over that time period.  I am conscious of the trauma and sense of violation that a burglary of one’s home can bring. I am heartened to see this sustained reduction in burglaries and would like to pay tribute to the consistent attention brought by Gardaí to disrupting burglary gangs.”

 

In conclusion, Minister Flanagan said:

 

“Release of these statistics, in the aftermath of the tragic shooting of a member of An Garda Síochána in the line of duty, is a reminder of the crucial work which Gardaí carry out every day, to keep us all safe.

 

“We turn to An Garda Síochána in times of crisis, including during the current Covid-19 pandemic, throughout which Gardaí have worked selflessly working to protect our health and wellbeing, in the best tradition of the service.

 

“The brave women and men of An Garda Síochána who police and protect our communities deserve our support and thanks for the manner in which they put the welfare of the public ahead of themselves, working to shield us from harm and connect our communities.”

 

ENDS…/

 

Notes for Editors

 

The full statistical release can be accessed at the website of the Central Statistics Office www.cso.ie

 

Garda resources

 

Government has allocated approximately €1.88 billion to the Garda Vote for 2020, which represents an increase of 7% on last year’s allocation. Capital investment of €116 million is also being made in An Garda Síochána this year, which is facilitating continuing investment in ICT, the Garda fleet and the Garda estate.

 

Following the attestation ceremony at the Garda College in Templemore on 20 March 2020, there are now 14,700 Gardaí nationwide, supported by over 3,000 Garda staff. The increasing number of Garda staff are freeing up sworn members from administrative duties and allowing them to return to frontline policing. The Garda Commissioner keeps the allocation of these resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

 

Publication of crime statistics ‘under reservation’

 

In early 2018, the CSO announced its decision to resume publication of recorded crime statistics in the first six months of 2018. However, as PULSE data – on which the CSO is wholly dependent - is subject to a number of separate ongoing quality reviews and concerns that extended beyond just homicide data, the CSO made the decision that recorded crime statistics will be published in a new category entitled: “Under Reservation”.

 

According to the CSO, the classification of “Under Reservation” is in keeping with other jurisdictions and other statistical domains. This indicates that, while the statistics have been determined to be of sufficient quality to allow publication, ongoing issues mean that the quality does not yet meet the higher standard required of official statistics by the CSO.

 

The CSO is engaging with An Garda Síochána to set out the criteria for the lifting of the reservation. These criteria are not confined to homicide data but will address quality concerns across a broader range of issues. They will address issues such as data governance, training, crime data recording procedures and the auditing and monitoring of data quality.