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136. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the criteria applied by An Garda Síochána for determining whether a crime should be recorded as a burglary as opposed to a criminal damage offence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6162/18]

137. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if both crimes are recorded on the PULSE system in circumstances in which criminal damage is committed in the course of a burglary; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6163/18]

138. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the checks in place to ensure that An Garda Síochána are correctly classifying crimes recorded on the PULSE system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6164/18]

139. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the process and policy in place for the re-characterisation of crimes already submitted in the PULSE system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6165/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I propose to take Questions Nos. 136 to 139, inclusive, together.
I have requested a report from the Garda authorities in relation to the methodologies and the criteria used by An Garda Síochána in recording the incidents referred to and I will contact the Deputy directly when the report is to hand.  
As the Deputy will be aware, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) as the national statistics agency, is responsible for the publication of the official recorded crime statistics.  I understand that the CSO has already carried out two detailed reviews of crime data quality, in 2015 and 2016, and that further general reviews of crime data quality are planned. The CSO's involvement is key to the ongoing work to enhance the quality of crime statistics.
Following the publication of the Garda Síochána Inspectorate report on Crime Investigation in November 2014, the then Tánaiste, my predecessor as Minister for Justice and Equality Ms. Frances FitzGerald T.D., met with the Director General of the Central Statistics Office (CSO) to discuss the issues raised in that report. One of the actions flowing from that discussion was the establishment of the Expert Group on Crime Statistics, chaired by the CSO, which was set up to consider six specific recommendations made by the Garda Inspectorate in their report which affect the recording of crime data by An Garda Síochána and the compilation of official crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office.
The expert group's report found that, while the current principles with regard to the recording, counting, invalidation and classification of crime are fit for purpose, there is a clear need for a new, comprehensive and publicly available document explaining these principles in detail. This issue is being taken forward by An Garda Síochána, in consultation with the CSO.
I understand that CSO plans to recommence publication of crime statistics in the first half of this year.  However, in the meantime provisional statistics released by An Garda Síochána last month indicate a significant drop in burglary rates for the two month period of November / December 2017.  I would caution that all these figures are provisional until such time as the publication of the official crime statistics by the CSO has recommenced. I am further informed that CSO are likely to note the statistics as ‘under reservation’ which indicates that, while the statistics have been determined to be of sufficient quality to allow publication, the ongoing issues mean that the quality does not yet meet the higher standard required of official statistics.
The CSO is engaging with An Garda Síochána and other crime statistics users, including my Department and the Policing Authority, in relation to the issues that need to be resolved by An Garda Síochána in order for the data to reach the required standard.