Minister Flanagan notes release of full year CSO Crime Statistics for 2018

 

25 March 2019

 

The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., today noted the publication of Crime Statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for Q4 2018.

Commenting on the continuing categorisation of the crime statistics as ‘Under Reservation’, the Minister said, “Work remains ongoing between An Garda Síochána and the CSO to return all crime statistics to the higher "official statistics" standard required by the CSO. Progress on this work is being monitored closely by the Policing Authority, and I welcome their continued vigilance in this regard.

“I am satisfied that progress is being made. In 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 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 also clear that there is more work to be done in this area and I am determined that this work will be brought to a conclusion as soon as possible.”

There was decrease of 10.8% in the total number of homicide offences committed to the end of 2018 when compared to the full year 2017. The Minister said “An Garda Síochána continue to make significant progress in tackling the insidious threat of organised crime, particularly in Dublin’s North Inner-City. An Garda Síochána are continuing to prevent further loss of life and I applaud their brave efforts; in particular the preventing of over 50 murders since Operation Hybrid commenced.”

The Minister said “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. To that end, a total budget of €1.76 billion has been provided to An Garda Síochána in 2019, an increase of over €100 million on the allocation for 2018.

The CSO figures also show some significant decreases in property-related crime over the full year 2018 when compared to 2017 with Theft offences down 3% and Burglary offences down 11.5% year on year. This amounts to almost 4,400 fewer incidents of Theft and Burglary offences in 2018 when compared to 2017.

While there was an increase of 11.3% in Robbery Offences, this amounted to an increase of 246 incidents for the full year 2018.

Noting these significant decreases, Minister Flanagan commended the work of a more visible An Garda Síochána, and committed to keeping accelerated Garda recruitment on track. “The statistics released in regard to property-related crime demonstrate the effect the increase in Garda numbers is having nationwide as a deterrent to these crimes.

“Since the reopening of the Garda College in September 2014, approximately 2,600 recruits have attested as members of An Garda Síochána and have been assigned to duties in communities nationwide. This includes approximately 200 trainee Garda who attested earlier this month. Approximately, 400 trainee Garda are scheduled to attest later this year.  Garda numbers increased to just over 14,000 at the end of 2018 for the first time since 2011, an increase of over 1,000 since the end of 2016. We are seeing the benefit of those numbers through these statistics.”

The Minister highlighted the work currently underway on delivering ‘A Policing Service for the Future’, the plan for implementation of the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing stating: “The objective in 2019 is to put in place the key building blocks to ensure that all priority actions are commenced, and work is already advancing on the development and roll out of pilots for a new local policing model which will ensure greater visibility of Gardaí in communities.”

There has been a notable increase in the sexual offences category of 10.3%, which continues a trend for 2018.

Speaking in relation to sexual offences, the Minister said: In 2018, a year when there was a significant public focus on sexual assault, there was an increase in recorded incidents and I continue to encourage anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to come forward and report the incident to An Garda Síochána.

“Work is ongoing in my Department to reform aspects of the investigation and prosecution of sexual violence to ensure that complainants are protected to the greatest extent possible.

“It is important to state that there is significant legislative work ongoing in my Department in relation to Sexual Offences, with a specific focus on the victims of these horrific crimes. The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Act 2019 was enacted earlier this year.  It provides for stricter sentencing for repeat sexual offenders.  

“In addition, 3 Divisional Protective Service Units (DPSUs) have been rolled out in 2018 In Louth, Dublin West and Cork City. These specialised Garda Units are tasked with improving services to victims, improving the investigation of sexual and domestic violence incidents, and identifying and managing risk. Units have been established in a further 6 Divisions at the start of 2019, and it is intended to have one DPSU in each Garda Division by the end of this year.

“The Government ratified the Istanbul Convention on preventing and combating violence against women and domestic violence on 8 March, International Women’s Day. The Istanbul Convention is the first legally-binding instrument which creates a comprehensive legal framework and approach to combat violence against women and is focused on preventing domestic violence, protecting victims and prosecuting accused offenders. This international convention characterizes violence against women as a violation of human rights and a form of discrimination”.

The Minister also noted the significant increase in recorded incidents of fraud, deception and related incidents for the full year 2018 when compared to 2017 of 18.4%. The Minister said “I believe this increase demonstrates the excellent work that is being carried out by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau in tackling this particular form of criminality. This increased focus has led to almost 1000 extra reports of fraud offences being recorded in 2018 when compared to 2017 and reflects this Government’s commitment to tackling fraud and corruption on every level.”

Finally, the Minister welcomed the announcement by the CSO that they intend, during April 2019, to publish statistics relating to the victims of serious crime incident types such as homicides, assaults and sexual offences. The publication of these statistics is in response to considerable user demand for such statistics. The analysis of victims will look at characteristics such as the sex of victims, the age at the time an offence first occurred and the time gap between when an offence occurred and when it was reported to An Garda Síochána, so as to provide some context to the reporting of such offences in Ireland.

ENDS

Notes for Editor:

The full statistics can be accessed at: https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-rc/recordedcrimeq42018/

Deferral of the official crime statistic publication by the CSO.

In early 2018, 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.

CSO Review Quality of Recorded Crime Statistics

On 11 December 2018, the CSO published a third review of the quality of Recorded Crime statistics. The latest review is based on data recorded on the PULSE database in respect of crimes reported to An Garda Síochána (AGS) in 2017.

The review found considerable development in the quality of Recorded Crime statistics since the publication of the last CSO quality review in 2016, including:

The scope of this review expanded on previous CSO reviews to include data quality concerns arising from the examination of homicide data records during 2017 such as the correct application of crime counting principles. The CSO has also undertaken, for the first time, to assess the quality of statistics relating to crimes with a discriminatory motive and domestic abuse. The CSO concludes that further work is needed to improve the accuracy of recording in these areas, and work is underway in that regard.