The Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, Dermot Ahern T.D, today said the fall in homicide and sexual offences outlined in the latest crime statistics was encouraging but said his focus would remain on reducing offences across all crime sectors.

The latest figures - released today by the Central Statistics Office of recorded crime statistics for the third quarter of 2009 - show of the 14 crime groups, 10 show a decrease and four an increase.

Minister Ahern said: "It is obviously heartening to see that the two groups containing the most serious offences of homicide and sexual offences showed a further welcome decrease in the third  quarter of 30% and 5.6% respectively.  The number of murders was essentially static compared with the same quarter last year. There were no incidents of manslaughter, and the number of cases of dangerous driving causing death decreased by 75%.

"I commend An Garda Síochána for their successes in achieving these outcomes. I note that three of the four groups which showed an increase cover burglary, robbery and theft offences. Year on year burglary offences showed an increase of 5.3%, reflecting the steep increase quarter on quarter. This upward pressure is also being experienced in other jurisdictions.

"The trend is being monitored by the Garda Commissioner and his senior management, who have been constantly updating strategies and taking the actions necessary to counter it. While the sentences provided by law for such crimes are already severe, at my request the Attorney General has asked the Law Reform Commission to look at the question of mandatory sentencing, particularly for those attacking the vulnerable in our society in this way. Even where violence is not involved, the Commissioner and I are very aware of the devastating effects these offences can have on people's lives." 

The number of weapons and explosives offences decreased by 2.3% overall, with the number of cases of discharging a firearm decreasing by 1.8% and of possession of a firearm by a significant 30.2%.

The number of public order offences also decreased, by 8.1%, with the number of cases of disorderly conduct, which make up the vast majority of public order offences, decreasing by 8.3%. A significant contribution to achieving this reduction was made by An Garda Síochána identifying and targeting public order hotspots. Liquor licensing offences decreased by 15%.

The serious traffic offences of driving or being in charge of a vehicle while over the legal alcohol limit and being under the influence of drugs decreased by 18.1% and 36.3% respectively. These outcomes are due to a significant extent to the continuing high level of policing of our roads, as  a result of which there have been 42 less deaths on the roads to date this year.

Controlled drugs offences showed a decrease of 15.2%, with reductions in both the number of cases of possession of drugs for sale or supply (down 2.9%) and for personal use (down 18.6%).

The Minister added: "While no area of Government expenditure can be immune from the adjustments which are vital if we are to bring our public finances back under control, I am determined to fulfil the commitment in the renewed Programme for Government that we will maintain the highest possible level of policing services. I reiterate my determination, in relation to next year's Estimates for my Department's group of Votes, that the highest priority be given to front line policing services and the provision of adequate levels of prison accommodation, so that those brought to justice will serve their full sentences ." 

The crime statistics are available on the CSO website 

27 October 2009