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Most perpetrators of sexual offences are known to the victim, new figures show

In a one-year period, 15% of suspects were partners or ex-partners.

SUSPECTS OF SEXUAL offences were known to the the victim in the majority of cases between the autumns of 2021 and 2022, according to new data.

Figures published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) today show that 83% of sexual offences between the third quarters of 2021 and 2022 involved a suspect who was known to the victim.

21% were considered a friend or acquaintance, 16% were blood relatives and 15% were partners or ex-partners, while the remaining 17% were strangers.

In cases that involved a blood relative as a suspect, 94% of victims were children under the age of 18 when the offence occurred.

It is the first time that the CSO has published data on the nature of the relationship between victims and suspects of sexual offences. The figures come from the gardaí’s incident recording system Pulse.

Statistician in the CSO Crime and Criminal Justice Section Jim Dalton said that “comparing male and female victims, the reported suspect for Sexual offences against males (13%) was more likely to be a person in authority or with care responsibilities than for females (2%)”.

“In contrast, partners or ex-partners were the reported suspect for 18% of Sexual offences against females compared with just 1% for males,” Dalton said.

“There were other differences too between males and females, for example, blood relatives were the reported suspects for 23% of offences against males compared with 14% of offences against females,” he outlined.

“Looking at the age of the victim when the offence took place, blood relatives were also the reported suspect for nearly three in ten (29%) sexual offences committed against persons who were aged under 18 years. Friends or acquaintances were the reported suspect for a fifth (20%) of offences against this age group.”

The CSO has also released data on the relationship between suspects and victims of assaults between the third quarters of 2021 and 2022.

Reported suspects were known to the victim in 75% of assault offences, including 22% who were partners or ex-partners, 14% who were a friend or acquaintance, and 13% who were a blood relative.

Strangers were the reported suspects for 36% of assault crimes against men compared with 12% against women, but partners or ex-partners were the reported suspect for 39% assaults against women compared with 6% for men.

During the time period, offences where the reported suspect was a partner or ex-partner involved a female victim in 87% of cases, while offences by a stranger involved a male victim 76% of the time.

Blood relatives were the reported suspects for 30% of assaults against under-18s.

“In other age groups, blood relatives were the reported suspect for 17% of assaults against victims who were 45 years or over, 8% for those aged 18-29 years, and 7% for the 30-44-year age group,” Dalton said.

“The results also show that the reported suspect was a stranger to the victim for just over one fifth (21%) of assaults against victims under 18 years,” he said.

“When one looks at the time taken to report assault offences, strangers were the reported suspect for 25% of those reported within a year and just 4% of those reported after a year.

“By contrast, partners or ex-partners were the reported suspects for 51% of assaults reported after a year and 21% of those reported within a year of occurrence.”

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