Minister Flanagan notes CSO Crime Statistics for Q1 2019

24 June 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 Q1 2019.

The number of homicide incidents in the first quarter has decreased by 12, or 14.3%, when compared to the same period in 2018. The Minister said “I welcome this reduction which is an encouraging development.  Every murder is a most horrific crime and I want to pay tribute to the courage of frontline Gardaí who continue to put themselves in harm’s way to protect the general public from the actions of those who seek to commit the most serious crime of all.”

The CSO figures also show some significant decreases in property-related crime to the end of Q1 2019 when compared to the same period last year. Theft offences are down 2.6% and Burglary offences are down a significant 10.3% year on year. This amounts to 3752 fewer incidents of Theft and Burglary offences for the year to the end of March 2019 when compared to the year to the end of March 2018.  There was a slight increase in robbery offences of 4.6%, amounting to just over 100 additional cases in the 12 month period.

Speaking about these figures the Minister said “There is no doubt that increasing numbers of Gardaí are having a very positive impact on the progress of An Garda Síochána in disrupting burglary gangs and targeting repeat offenders. Concentrated policing activity has produced in the region of 10,000 arrests and 11,500 charges covering a range of offences which, in addition to burglary, includes handling stolen property, possession of firearms and drugs offences.”

Speaking in relation to the increase of controlled drug offences, Minister Flanagan said, “The significant increase of 16.2% in recorded incidents of controlled drug offences is a cause for concern. The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau leads in tackling all forms of drug trafficking and the supply of illicit drugs in Ireland. Inter-agency and significant international collaboration are involved in tackling this issue. Ireland is one of seven countries partnering in the highly successful Maritime Analysis and Operations Centre - Narcotics and there are liaison officers from An Garda Síochána and Revenue based at the centre in Lisbon. Most recently, in February 2019, a further 9.5 tonnes of cocaine was seized off the coast of Cape Verde following operational information shared as a result of this initiative.“

There has been a notable increase in the number of reported sexual offences of 10%, which continues a trend observed during 2018. This continues a trend seen since Q1 2015, where reported incidents have risen 54.9% from 2,086 incidents in Q1 2015 to 3,231 incidents in the year to Q1 2019.

Speaking in relation to sexual offences, the Minister said: While there remains a grave concern at the year on year increase in incidents of rape and sexual assault being reported to An Garda Síochána, I welcome the fact that more and more victims are coming forward to An Garda Síochána and I urge victims to continue to do so.  An Garda Síochána is continuously improving its specialist services and, to date, nine Divisional Protective Service Units (DPSUs) have been established with plans for DPSUs in all Garda Divisions by the end of this year. 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.”

The Minister continued:

“Following extensive submissions and consultations, work continues on the review which I have initiated examining reform of the investigation and prosecution of sexual violence to ensure that complainants are protected to the greatest extent possible 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 again highlighted the need for everyone in society to examine their behaviour and attitudes, saying:

 “I launched a  major national awareness campaign on sexual harassment and sexual violence was launched by my Department on 9 May on the theme of ‘No Excuses’. This is a high impact national media campaign which aims to increase awareness of sexual violence and to bring about changes in societal attitudes with the aim of decreasing and preventing these offences

“It’s clear that there is a considerable amount of work underway to address the societal attitudes to sexual abuse, to clamp down on any reoffending, and to encourage the continued early reporting of any incident of sexual abuse, violence or gender based violence to An Garda Síochána”

The Minister also noted the significant increase in recorded incidents of fraud, deception and related incidents in Q1 2019 when compared to the same period in 2018 of 28.5%, noting that this also reflects trends internationally.  The Minister said “This increase of over 1,500 cases reflects a significant step-up in policing activity in relation to these types of fraud and deception offences. The Garda National Economic Crime Bureau are rolling out training to officers at a Divisional level, allowing local Gardaí to develop the knowledge and expertise to investigate and prosecute incidents of Fraud and similar offences. While any rise of that magnitude would give some cause for concern, I believe this increase demonstrates the work that is being carried out by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau in tackling this particular form of criminality and reflects this Government’s commitment to tackling fraud and corruption on every level.”

The Minister also 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 in Ireland Report, which is being overseen from a programme office in the Department of An Taoiseach. Emphasising the importance of visible policing in communities the Minister said: Garda management are currently developing a new model of community policing based on delivering localised policing services to meet the differing needs of different communities. Most importantly, local front-line policing will be placed at the core of our police service, ensuring that Gardaí are more active and visible in communities

The Minister also thanked the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and Equality for their recent report on ‘Community Policing and Rural Crime’. The Minister said that “the recommendations contained in the Committees report, along with those of the Commission for the Future of Policing in Ireland complement each other and will contribute to the goal of achieving a modern police service that works collaboratively with communities and other agencies to keep our communities safe.

The Minister also noted the release of the latest Garda Public Attitudes Survey for Q1 2019 on Wednesday, 19 June. The Minister said: “I very much welcome the results of the latest Public Attitudes Survey in respect of An Garda Síochána.”

“While 71% of respondents considered national crime to be either a ‘very serious’ or ‘serious’ problem (a decrease of 3% from Q4 2018), only 16% of respondents believe local crime is a ‘serious’ or ‘very serious’ problem, the lowest since Q1 2015. While some reported incidents of serious criminality might cause some to believe crime on a national level is widespread and a very serious problem, I believe it is instructive to focus on the results locally, to understand how safe people are feeling in their own homes and in their own communities.”

“I also note that 90% of survey respondents have a mid to high level of trust in An Garda Síochána and 95% of respondents agree that Gardaí would treat them with respect if they had contact with them for any reason. This demonstrates the deep-rooted faith that Irish people have in their national police service, and this is something that I believe will only improve as the recommendations of the Commission on the Future of Policing are rolled out, ensuring that Community policing remains at the heart of the work of all Members of An Garda Síochána”.

<ENDS>

Notes for Editor:

The full statistics can be accessed at: https://www.cso.ie/en/releasesandpublications/ep/p-rc/recordedcrimeq12019/           

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.