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Question

780. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice the number of persons charged with knife crimes in 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16402/21]

781. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice the number of persons convicted of knife crimes in 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16403/21]

Answer

Minister for Justice (Deputy Helen McEntee): I propose to take Questions Nos. 780 and 781 together.
Knife crime is a serious issue across many jurisdictions. The mission of An Garda Síochána is ‘Keeping People Safe’ and whilst this is a simple message, it is a very deep one, and An Garda Síochána keep policing practices and strategies under review with a view to providing the best possible responses.
The Deputy will be aware that under my recently published Justice Plan 2021, my Department will review existing Garda powers in relation to dangerous weapons, including knives, to ensure they have the necessary legal tools to protect our communities.
We will also focus on analysing existing data, as well as developing new sources of data, and looking at international best practice in this area.
I have contacted both An Garda Síochána and the Courts Service for the information requested by the Deputy and have been advised of the following:
In relation to the number of persons charged for knife crimes, a search of the PULSE database was conducted on 25 March 2021 to identify any charge or summons created nationwide during 2020 whereby the associated legislative act was the ‘Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act 1990’ and the offence wording referred to Section 9(1) or Section 9(4) of that Act. The total count of unique charges and summonses created under each heading is as follows:

Offence Wording Charges/Summons Issued
Contrary to S9(1) and 9(7) of Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990 (as amended by S38 of Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act, 2009 1997
Contrary to S9(4) Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990 289

The total number of charges/summons issued for 2020 is 2,286.
It should be noted that these statistics are taken from PULSE as of 05:00 on 25 March 2021 and that they are operational data and liable to change. Multiple charges or summonses may be issued for incidents, for example, if there are multiple offenders or multiple categories of charges.
In relation to the number of convictions for the offences listed above, I have been advised by the Courts Service that the following, provisional, figures are available:
The Courts Service have provided reports on the number of convictions secured and the number of persons convicted of the offences listed. The Courts Service have no separate code for various categories of knife crime. The codes utilised by Courts Service are based on those used by An Garda Síochána and includes knives or other articles which could include screwdrivers, knuckledusters, guns etc.
Report 1: The number of convictions & number of persons convicted for Possession of Knives & other Articles. Section 9(1) Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990
Report 2: The number of convictions & number of persons convicted for Possession of Flick-Knife. Section 9(4) Firearms and Offensive Weapons Act, 1990.

Report 1
Year No. of offences where convictions was recorded No. of Persons convicted
Jan – 31 Dec 2020 490 434

Report 2
Year No. of offences where convictions was recorded No. of Persons convicted
Jan – 31 Dec 2020 44 42

Note 1: Courts can only provide data in relation to where offence codes provided on the system were used by prosecutors. Prosecutors may have used uncoded free text offences and any such offences would not be included in the data provided.
Note 2: A person may be convicted for both offences and will appear more than once on the report
For the Deputy's information, conviction data supplied by the Courts is provisional and subject to change pending publication of the Courts Service Annual Report for 2020 later in the year.