Minister Flanagan notes release of CSO Crime Statistics for Q1 2018.

 

27 June 2018

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., today noted the publication of Crime Statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for Q1 2018.

 

The Minister said “This Government is strongly committed to ensuring a strong and visible police presence throughout the country in order to maintain and strengthen community engagement, provide reassurance to citizens and to deter crime. A total budget of €1.65 billion has been provided to An Garda Síochána in 2018, an increase of 2% on 2017. It should be noted that the Garda allocation also continues to benefit from the significant additional funding that was provided in 2016, and maintained in 2017, to fund the sustained response to tackle gangland crime, the continuation of Operation Thor and ensure that measures to prevent international terrorism can be continued. Furthermore, we are substantially increasing the number of Gardaí. Since the Garda College reopened in September 2014, approximately 2,000 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and a further 400 members will attest by the end of the year as part of the Government’s commitment to reach an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 by 2021.

 

As I have stated on many occasions, I believe it is hugely important for the management of criminal justice policy, and for Garda operations, that we have regular publication of the crime statistics to allow for a targeted response to crime. While the CSO figures released today remain “Under Reservation”, I am confident that the work being done by An Garda Síochána, in conjunction with the CSO and the Policing Authority, will soon return the recorded crime statistics to the higher standard expected of our crime statistics.”

 

There was decrease of homicide offences of 17% recorded up to the end of Q1 of 2018 when compared to the same period in 2017. The Minister said “It is clear from the reduction in homicide figures that An Garda Síochána continue to make significant progress in tackling the insidious threat of organised crime, particularly in Dublin’s North Inner-City, where a proactive approach is being taken to combat those who seek to carry out such shocking murders and prevent further loss of life. Indeed,  I welcome the huge efforts made by An Garda Síochána to prevent further loss of life;  in particular the preventing of over 50 murders since Operation Hybrid commenced.”

 

However, the CSO figures also show increases in property-related crime over the 12 months to the end of Q1 2018 when compared to end of Q1 2017 with:

 

Burglary up 1.2%

Robbery up 15.9%

Theft up 8.1%

 

There have also been significant increases in the sexual offences category, which is up 14.7%.

 

Speaking in relation to sexual offences, the Minister said: The rise in the recorded incidents of sexual assault, and particularly rape, is something this Government is taking very seriously. I have recently brought forward the Heads of a Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill. This Bill will provide for stricter sentencing for repeat sexual offenders. However, I would make the point that an increase in recorded incidents of sexual assault can also indicate an increase in the reporting of sexual crimes, and I would continue to encourage anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to come forward and report the incident to An Garda Síochána.”

 

The Minister also said “While I am disappointed to see the slight increase in burglary and also the increase in theft offences for Q1 2018, these remain at very low levels when compared with the years 2014-2016. This demonstrates the effect of special Garda operations, such as Operation Thor which was established to tackle theft and burglary, especially in rural areas, and which has seen the investment of significant Government Resources. This Government remains totally committed to ensuring that An Garda Síochána have all the necessary resources to tackle all forms of criminality in our State. In this context, I will continue to engage with Garda management and, of course, Commissioner Harris in addressing the issues arising from these statistics.”

 

The Minister also noted the significant increase in recorded incidents of fraud, deception and related incidents. He said “While an increase in any category of crime of almost 16% is concerning, the suite of measures launched by this Government last November to tackle White Collar Crime, and increased Garda focus to detect and prosecute these incidents have contributed to this significant increase in the detection of fraud and similar offences. These are not crimes that are taken lightly by this Government, or by Gardaí, and I reiterate our commitment to tackling this particular form of crime.”

 

ENDS…/

 

 

Notes for Editor:

 

Deferral of the official crime statistic publication by the CSO.

This is the first “quarterly publication of crime statistics from the CSO since March 2017 when the statistics for Q4 2016 were released. This decision was taken by the CSO, initially, as they had raised concerns in relation to the figures being supplied by An Garda Síochána.

 

On 7 September 2017, the CSO announced that following discussions with An Garda Síochána, they had decided to further defer the publication of recorded crime statistics. This followed on from An Garda Síochána’s decision to extend their review of homicide data.

 

Earlier this year, 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, the 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.

 

Ongoing Homicide Statistics Review

An Garda Síochána is currently working, in conjunction with the CSO and the Policing Authority, to resolve an issue which was identified by An Garda Síochána in relation to the classification of homicide offences. The expert oversight by the CSO of crime statistics in line with best international practice ensures that the public can have confidence in the data which informs the development of effective policies by the Department of Justice and Equality. 

 

The issue about the classification of homicide statistics is not new. It was identified some time ago by the Gardaí themselves and the Minister is assured that intensive work has been ongoing to resolve the issue by An Garda Síochána with oversight from the Policing Authority, the CSO and the Department of Justice and Equality.

An Garda Síochána initiated a review of homicide classifications, initially for the period 2013-2015 but later extended the review to cover the period from 2003-2017. 

 

This is obviously a time consuming and complex process but it is important that both An Garda Síochána and the CSO are confident that their data is robust and accurate.  While the review was underway, the CSO had suspended the publication of the quarterly crime statistics until today. The review by An Garda Síochána has not been published as it is not yet complete, however the details will be made public on completion.

 

The Minister has already expressed his concerns about reports that unlawful deaths were not properly investigated.  Any substantiated allegations of this kind would be very serious and a cause of grave public concern.  The issue that has arisen in respect of homicide classification is complex and it is essential to clearly establish the facts.

The Minister has received assurances from the Garda Commissioner that he is confident that all cases, which were identified by An Garda Síochána as requiring further examination, have been properly investigated in accordance with Article 2 of the European Convention on Human Rights. This article protects the right to life and places an obligation on States to investigate suspicious deaths.

 

An Garda Síochána outlined the methodology of the peer review, and other aspects of the ongoing process, to the Policing Authority in public session, and work remains on going between the two bodies to bring this issue to a close.

 

The Minister for Justice and Equality continues to support the Authority’s important work in relation to this matter and understands that this issue will continue to be examined both in public meetings and in the ongoing work that takes place in between such meetings until the Authority is fully satisfied.

 

This oversight is appropriate and welcome, as the Policing Authority was established by the Government as an independent body to oversee the performance of An Garda Síochána in relation to policing services in Ireland. Its key objective is to promote trust and confidence in policing and to help shape policing services for Ireland in the future.  The Minister has full confidence in the ability of the Authority to do the work with which they are tasked.