131. Deputy James Lawless asked the Minister for Justice her assessment of the recently published statistics for recorded crime detection in 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [57997/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): As the Deputy will be aware, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the detection of and response to any criminal activity is an operational function for the Garda Commissioner. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters.
The Central Statistics Office's latest release on Recorded Crime Detection, published earlier this month, identifies the percentage of crimes recorded by Gardaí in 2020 that had been deemed ‘detected’ by 2 September 2021. A crime is considered detected when a suspected offender has been identified and sanctioned for the crime.
The figures provide a sound baseline on which to measure policing performance going forward. As we all know, during 2020 the public health crisis continued to influence the needs of our communities, and this resulted in a change in the demands on policing. Crime types are increasingly more complex and can require resource-intensive investigations, but throughout 2020 the Commissioner and An Garda Síochána remained committed to protecting people from harm in public, private and virtual spaces.
The release provides an overview of the crimes reported to Gardaí and the figures show considerable variations in the proportions of the different types of crime incidents which were detected.
Gardaí are achieving significant successes in a range of crime categories and should be commended for their efforts. In comparison to the detection rates for crimes committed in 2019 at this stage after their occurrence, there have been welcome increases in detection rates in 2020 for a number of offence groups, including homicide offences at 82.1% (up over 16 percentage points on 2019 incidents at this time last year), attempts or threats to murder, assaults, harassment and related offences at 37.7% (up over 4 percentage points), burglary at 22.4% (up over 7 percentage points) and theft at 36.2% (up over 3 percentage points), as well as public order offences at 86.4% (up over 2 percentage points).
However, there were markedly lower detection rates for sexual offences. The 2020 figures reflect a rate of one in ten crimes detected to date (10.3%).
It is worth noting that the updated figures for 2019 suggests that there is an increase in detection for sexual offences over a longer period following reporting of the crime, with the percentage of detection of such offences recorded in 2019 increasing from 12% in September 2020, to over 20% by September 2021. This reflects the fact that sexual offence cases can be more complex and take more time to go through the Court system.
Reforming our criminal justice system to make sure victims feel confident and secure in reporting these crimes, that Gardaí have the tools to pursue perpetrators, and that the Courts deal with these cases as quickly as possible, is a top priority for me as Minister.