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'Particularly concerning': Minister responds to 10% rise in the number of reported sex crimes in the last year

Cases of sex crimes, robbery, extortion and hijacking all saw rises in the last year.

File photo, there's been a rise of 272 reported sex crimes in the last year.
File photo, there's been a rise of 272 reported sex crimes in the last year.
Image: Shutterstock/Dragon Images

Updated Oct 1st 2018, 9:30 PM

THERE’S BEEN AN increase in the number of sex crimes being reported to Gardaí in the last year.

According to a new report from the Central Statistics Office, 272 more allegations of a sexual offence were reported in the year ending June 2018. The report saw a marked rise of 10.2% in these types of crimes. 

The figures are released under reservation following concerns over how data is logged on the gardaí’s PULSE database. It follows the 2014 Garda Inspectorate report identifying quality issues with the system.

Speaking to Noeline Blackwell CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis centre said due to a lack of information the figures in relation to sex crimes are difficult to interpret.

If it is an increase in sexual violence, then that is a concern for us and the gardaí.

 However Blackwell said it could also be that more people are reporting sex offences.

 If it is an increase in reporting of crimes then that is a positive and must be welcomed.

Blackwell is calling on the government to carry out an extensive survey to establish the level of sexual crime in Ireland, she says that would give a clearer picture on how widespread the issue is here.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan has described the increase in sexual offences, “particularly concerning”.  Flanagan said the new National Protective Services Bureau is tasked with improving services for victims of violent offences including sex crime. He encouraged victims to report attacks to Gardaí: 

I strongly welcome the reporting of sexual assaults which are generally under-reported and urge victims to come forward. An Garda Síochána are fully committed to tackling this insidious form of violence and abuse. 

chart 2 Crime Figures 2018 Source: Courtesy of the CSO

Robbery saw the greatest increase over the period with a 15.1% rise of cases under the banner of robbery, extortion and hijacking offences. In all Gardaí investigated 2,339 of these types of crime. 

There was no increase in the level of homicides reported over the year with the same number of 77 recorded in the previous 12 months. 

Overall nine of the 15 offences categories saw a rise according to the data, with the majority of these violent offences. 

There was also a marked decline in the number of kidnapping cases: 

The number of kidnapping and related Offences was down from 127 to 104 incidents for the year ending June 2018. This represents a drop of 18.1%. 

chart 1 Crime figures 2018 Source: Courtesy of the CSO

The CSO first suspended the publication of Recorded Crime statistics in 2014 following the Garda Inspectorate report identifying quality issues in relation to the recording of data on the PULSE system. The system is the only source of recorded crime data available to the CSO to produce these statistics. 

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The CSO resumed issuing reports in March of  this year, however they are released under the category of statistics under reservation.

In its report today the CSO said:

This categorisation indicates that the quality of these statistics do not meet the standards required of official statistics published by the CSO.

In a statement to a spokesperson for the Gardaí said the situation is being kept under review: 

Crime trends are kept under constant review in order to put strategies in place to prevent and detect key crimes.
We are working to ensure our data quality is of a sufficient level for the CSO to remove the “reservation” designation. We are in regular contact with the CSO to inform them of our progress.

Sinn Féin is calling on the government to address the increase in robberies and sex crimes over the last year. Justice Spokesperson Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire said action is needed “to ensure communities and vulnerable people are afforded more adequate protections”.

Meanwhile the Irish Cattle and Sheep Farmers’ Association is calling for more investment in rural policing to tackle rising crime rates. 

 The group’s Seamus Sherlock said:

These figures are alarming to say the least. Robbery implies the use of force and a 15% rise in these types of incidents will no doubt cause widespread fear in rural Ireland where people feel most vulnerable.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre’s helpline is available for anyone who may need support on 1800 77 88 88.

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