Minister McEntee notes release of CSO Crime Statistics for 2020


Burglary, Theft and Robberies at lowest volumes since CSO started publishing crime statistics


29 March 2021


The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has noted today’s publication of Recorded Crime Statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for Q4 2020. This latest statistical release by the CSO provides the annualised crime statistics for 2020.


Minister McEntee said:


The upheaval caused by COVID-19 delivered a significant interruption to crime patterns in 2020 and the finding that burglary, theft and robbery related offences are at their lowest volumes since the CSO began publishing crime statistics from 2003 is very welcome. I also welcome the recorded drop in reports of crimes against the person such as attempts/threats to murder, assault and harassment offences.


However, it is important that we keep in mind that these figures reflect a period when the country spent significant periods in lockdown and there will be no relaxation in the collective effort of the Government and Gardaí to suppress crime as our communities emerge from these restrictions.” 


Burglary and related offences saw an annualised Quarter 4 decrease of 34.7% compared to 2019. Likewise theft and related offences were down by 24.5% compared 2019 and Robbery and extortion offences decreased by 22.9% compared to 2019. The reductions in crimes against property groups were driven by significant drops in volumes during Q2 when the first lockdown took place.


Attempts/threats to murder, assault and harassment offences are down 13.2% compared to 2019.  Crimes against the person offence types were highest during Q3, perhaps reflecting the opening up after the initial period of lockdown. While the number of murders reduced from 36 to 34, the number of cases of Dangerous Driving leading to Death increased from 25 to 35, which is an unwelcome reversal of a downward trend that has been evident over the past few years. 


The Minister added:


“While decreases can be seen in the overall reported levels of crimes against the person, I am very conscious of the particular risks which COVID-19 has presented for those at risk of domestic violence. Since the start of the pandemic, An Garda Síochána have prioritised domestic abuse incidents through Operation Faoiseamh and in doing so have proactively targeted perpetrators and provided enhanced support to victims of domestic abuse.


Preventing and addressing sexual crime remains a key priority for me as Minister for Justice and for Government. Delivering on the actions set out in the Justice Plan 2021 and in Supporting a Victim’s Journey will introduce important reforms into the criminal justice system to ensure victims are consistently supported and informed at every point along their journey from the moment they report a crime, through the investigation, trial and beyond. The nationwide rollout of the Divisional Protective Services Units (DPSU) within An Garda Síochána which is complete, is an important part of those reforms. The availability of DPSUs in every division means there are now specially trained officers available nationwide who are responsible for engagement with and interviewing vulnerable victims.” 


Recorded offences in relation to drugs increased in a number of categories. Controlled drug offences rose by 9.1% compared to 2019, with an increase both in possession for simple possession and drugs for sale or supply contributing the highest volume to the increase.  


The Minister said:


“While I am concerned to see this increase, we must recognise that it also reflects the increased Garda numbers on frontline policing duties and the concentrated work of the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau.  We will continue to fight against the scourge of drugs in our society because of the incredible damage they do to our families, to our community and to those vulnerable people who are lured into drug use. In particular, the marked increase in detection of Cultivation or Manufacture of Drugs is a credit to the proactive and pre-emptive efforts of An Garda Síochána to tackle this form of criminality“


I also note with some concern the substantial increase in the number of recorded incidents of driving while under the influence of drugs. This is in stark contrast with the downwards trend in incidents of driving while over the legal alcohol limit.  While this is parallel to the increased number of Garda checkpoints during the public health emergency, such a profound increase is a troubling trend. Driving while under the influence of drugs is a truly selfish and reckless act, and any person who does so shows a complete disregard for their own safety and that of other road users. I commend An Garda Síochána for their efforts to tackle this appalling act.”




Notes for Editors:


The full statistics can be accessed at:


An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.952 billion for 2021.  This level of funding is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff. As a result, there are now over 14,600 Garda members and over 3,000 Garda staff nationwide. 


Deferral of the official crime statistic publication by the CSO.

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”.


“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.


Criteria for lifting the categorisation

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.


CSO Review Quality of Recorded Crime Statistics

On 11 December 2018, the CSO published a third review of the quality of Recorded Crime statistics. The latest review is based on data recorded on the PULSE database in respect of crimes reported to An Garda Síochána (AGS) in 2017.


The review found considerable development in the quality of Recorded Crime statistics since the publication of the last CSO quality review in 2016, including:


The scope of this review expanded on previous CSO reviews to include data quality concerns arising from the examination of homicide data records during 2017 such as the correct application of crime counting principles. The CSO has also undertaken, for the first time, to assess the quality of statistics relating to crimes with a discriminatory motive and domestic abuse. The CSO concludes that further work is needed to improve the accuracy of recording in these areas, and work is underway in that regard.