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Almost 90% of sexual offences reported in 2018 not solved by gardaí

The CSO has published new data on the detection of crime last year.

Image: Brian Lawless/PA Wire

ALMOST NINE OUT of every ten sexual offences that were reported to gardaí last year have still not been solved.

New data published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) this morning shows that only 11% of sexual offences reported last year were detected, lower than any other type of crime.

In contrast, 85% of controlled drug offences, 81% of public order offences and 75% of murder/manslaughter offences during 2018 were counted as detected.

The low figure for sexual offences is attributed to the introduction of a new method for detecting crimes. It follows controversy over previous figures, with the CSO expressing doubt about the reliability of information provided by gardaí in recent years.

Gardaí say that although the number of detections for sexual offences appears to have dropped, the difference om the new method for counting crimes means the latest data is not comparable to previous figures.

They also say it is important for victims of crime to be confident that the force’s method of detecting crime is clear and accurate, so that they know their investigation is being properly managed.

“Giving confidence is hugely important from our perspective,” a garda spokesman said.

“We know over the last couple of years that there have been improvements in the number of people that have come forward [to report sexual offences]. We want to continue that trend.

“And hopefully by bringing clarity to that process, we’ll continue to do that. What we can give an assurance about, is that the victims of crime will be given every possible support that we can [give them], particularly in the area of the most vulnerable victims.”

New method

Today’s publication marks the first time that the CSO has published detection data since December 2016, and follows the introduction of a new method for counting crime.

Under the previous detection method, a crime was counted as detected when at least one suspect in a case was identified.

This detection was entered on the garda PULSE computer system manually by an investigating garda.

However, under the new system, a crime is counted as detected when at least one suspected offender is identified and charged, given a court summons, or given an adult or juvenile caution.

The detection is logged automatically on PULSE, which gardaí believe will remove human error and enable investigators to fully comply with recording rules.

The new figures relate to crimes solved in 2018 up to August this year.

However, the CSO expects detection rates for crimes reported last year – particularly later in the year – will increase over time as more investigations are completed, due to a natural time lag in solving some forms of crime.

CSO figures

According to today’s release, the detection rates for crimes reported in 2018 – up until August this year – were:

  • Murder/manslaughter: 85%
  • Sexual offences: 11%
  • Attempted/threats to murder, assaults, harassments: 32%
  • Robbery, extortion, hijacking: 26%
  • Burglary and related offences: 16%
  • Theft and related offences: 33%
  • Controlled drug offences: 85%
  • Damage to property and the environment: 19%
  • Public order and other social code offences: 81%

CSO statistician Sam Scriven said that it was important for the public to understand that the new method of counting data was a “significant break-in-series” for measuring crime detection rates, and that the new data should not be compared with previous figures.

A garda spokesman said that although some detections appeared to be low, the force would still support victims of crime and do everything to bring perpetrators to justice.

“The huge message that we’re trying to get out today is to give confidence to the victims of crime to come forward,” he said.

“It is hugely important that they gain confidence from this step, and that detection is one issue and one element of [an investigation].

“We have made lots of other changes to improve the investigative process. So we want to take the opportunity to give a clear message that the victims of crime, we need them to come forward.”

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