Minister Flanagan notes release of CSO Crime Statistics for Q3 2018.
20 December 2018
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., today noted the publication of the crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for Q3 2018. This latest release follows on from the CSO’s publication of the third review of the quality of recorded crime statistics earlier this month, which highlighted ‘considerable development’ in the manner in which incidents were being recorded on the PULSE system.
The Minister noted that there was a 19.3% decrease in the total number of homicide offences committed to the end of Q3 2018 when compared to the same period in 2017 and highlighted the work of An Garda Síochána in tackling crimes relating to gangland feuds. The Minister said: “An Garda Síochána continue to make significant progress in tackling organised crime, particularly in Dublin’s North Inner-City through Operation Hybrid. Gardaí have had a number of successes with detections in relation to organised crime cases and have prevented over 50 murders since Operation Hybrid commenced. It is also important to note that Gardaí have made a number of arrests that have led to high-profile convictions by the Courts and, in this context, it is only right that I commend them for their efforts to keep our communities safe and prevent any further loss of life.
The success of these Garda operations has impacted on the Harassments and related offences category, which includes murder attempts and threats, contributing to an increase of 6.7%, with Weapons and Explosive offences also up 1.2% on the same period last year. An Garda Síochána will continue to tackle these criminals head on, and this Government will continue to support them in doing so.”
Although offences relating to robbery increased by 22.7%, burglary and theft-related offences were down 6.4% and 3.2% respectively, and damage to property incidents decreased by 7.4% over the 12 month period to the end of Q3 2018 when compared to the end of Q3 2017.
The Minister, in expressing his concern in the increase of robbery-related offences, highlighted the recruitment of new Gardaí since the re-opening of the Garda College in Templemore and the significant resources allocated to An Garda Síochána, stating: “This Government remains 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. Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, almost 2,400 recruits have attested as Members of An Garda Síochána and been assigned to mainstream duties nationwide. This accelerated recruitment of Gardaí will see Garda workforce reach 14,000 by the end of this year with Garda workforce expected to be in the region of 21,000 by 2021.”
The Minister noted that: “A total budget of €1.76 billion has been provided to An Garda Síochána in 2019, an increase of over €100 million on the 2018 allocation. The Garda capital allocation has increased from €61 million to €92 million in 2019, a 50% increase. This will facilitate investment of around €65 million in ICT. This substantial investment will provide new and leading edge technology to support our front line Gardaí in carrying out their work.”
The Minister also noted the increase in recorded incidents of fraud, deception and related incidents when compared to the same period last year. The Minister said: “Gardaí at the National Economic Crime Bureau launched a Confidential Line for the reporting of Bribery and Corruption by members of the public last September. I have previously highlighted the importance of this initiative and would continue to encourage anyone with any information in this regard to please contact Tel: 1800 40 60 80.
“This confidential line, and additional focus by Gardaí on fraud and similar types of offences, follows on from the introduction of the suite of measures launched by the Government in November 2017 to tackle White Collar Crime as well as the enactment of the Corruption Offences Act 2018 and the Criminal Justice (Money Laundering and Terrorist Financing) (Amendment) Act 2018.
The Minister addressed the increases in the sexual offences category, which is up 11.7%, stating: The rise in the recorded incidents of sexual assault, and particularly rape, continues to be an area of key focus for both the Government and An Garda Síochána. I would strongly encourage anyone who has been the victim of such attacks to please contact An Garda Síochána and report the incident as soon as possible. An Garda Síochána, and in particular the National Protective Services Bureau, is tasked with improving services to victims of sexual and domestic violence, improving the investigation of sexual and domestic violence incidents and identifying and managing risk. I can assure all members of the public that Gardaí will be on hand to support all those who come forward where they will be treated at all times in a professional and sensitive manner.”
“In terms of improving legislation in this area, the Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Bill 2018 is currently progressing through the Dáil. This Bill will provide for stricter sentencing for repeat sexual offenders. I am anxious to ensure that victims have appropriate protections during a court process and I have ordered a review of the investigation and prosecution of sexual offences with an emphasis on vulnerable witnesses. A review group, chaired by Tom O’Malley, an expert in this field, will report to me in the new year.
Commenting on the continuing categorisation of the crime statistics as ‘Under Reservation’, the Minister said, “While the figures released today remain “Under Reservation” it is clear that progress is being made by An Garda Síochána and the CSO in improving the quality of the crime statistics. Notably, on 11 December 2018 the CSO published a third review of the quality of Recorded Crime statistics, based on data recorded on the PULSE database system for crimes reported to Gardaí in 2017. The review concluded, inter-alia, that clear improvements had been made in the manner in which criminal incidents were being recorded on the PULSE system. While this is encouraging, it is clear that there is more work to be done in this area and my Department, in conjunction with the Policing Authority, will continue to monitor the progress of An Garda Síochána and the CSO in ensuring that the national crime statistics are returned to the higher standard required by the CSO.
Earlier this week, the Government announced that it was endorsing the recommendations contained in the Commission for the Future of Policing in Ireland report. One such recommendation contained in the report addressed the need to improve the quality of the crime data in Ireland, and the way in which Gardaí record crime investigations. The Minister said: “I look forward to engaging with Commissioner Harris and the Implementation Group on Policing Reform, who will be supported by a dedicated Programme Office in the Department of An Taoiseach, to help deliver on the report’s recommendations. I am convinced the report provides the right vision for Ireland to maintain and enhance public trust in policing, to address current challenges and also enable An Garda Síochána to meet future challenges.”