Written answers

Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Crime Levels

9:00 pm

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Question 176: To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of crimes committed by persons on bail in each of the past five years and to date in 2010; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43352/10]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Question 177: To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the efforts he has made to combat the ongoing activity of criminal gangs; the way this has impacted on such criminal activity in each of the past 12 months to date; if further measures are required or contemplated to deal with the full extent of such criminal activity as identified during this period; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43353/10]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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I would refer the Deputy to my reply to Oral Question No. 94 tabled for answer today.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Question 178: To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of successful convictions against organised criminal gang members in each of the past three years to date; the number acquitted; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43354/10]

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Question 189: To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of recognised criminal gangs currently operating throughout the country, the number that are known to have retired, emigrated or are in prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43365/10]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Question Nos. 178 and 189 together.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that there are two categories of organised crime groups operating in this jurisdiction. The first category consists of individuals / groups that are well established and tightly structured involved in drug trafficking, armed robbery and firearms offences. The second category involves groups whose activities are characterised by less cohesive group structures and criminal activities which are mainly confined to Ireland. I am further informed that information regarding such criminal groups is disseminated on a regular basis to Europol. The Deputy will appreciate that membership of organised gangs tends to be fluid and the nature of criminal activity is such that offences committed by members of gangs may or may not be connected with the individual's membership of such gangs. The existence of such gangs and their membership does not remain static. It is therefore not possible to accurately attribute specific figures to the membership or activities of such gangs or to the criminal convictions of their members.

However, I can assure the Deputy that members of An Garda Síochána are utilising all available legislation to target organised crime including the provisions contained in the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009 amending the Criminal Justice Act 2006 in relation to organised crime. In this regard, I am informed by the Garda authorities that as of 31st October 2010 eight individuals have been charged under the legislation, six under Section 72 of the Act (participating or contributing to certain activities) and two under Section 71A of the Act (directing the activities of a criminal organisation). In addition, An Garda Síochána will continue to develop and implement strategies to dismantle and disrupt criminal networks, utilising advanced analytical and intelligence methods to facilitate targeted operations to enable early intervention and prevention of organised crime.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Question 179: To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the extent to which serious crime figures have fluctuated in each of the past two years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43355/10]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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Recorded crime statistics for 2009 published by the Central Statistics Office show a reduction in nine of the 14 crime groups for which statistics are given, compared with 2008. Decreases in the numbers of cases of manslaughter and dangerous driving leading to death contributed to a fall in homicide offences of 10.1%. There were also welcome decreases in public order offences, which were down 7.8% during 2009 and controlled drug offences, which were down 6.3.%. The statistics for the third quarter of 2010, the most recent available, show a decrease in 11 of the 14 crime groups for which statistics are given, compared with the same quarter in 2009. The number of homicide offences decreased by 23.5% in the quarter, when compared with the same quarter last year, and 20.7% year on year. The number of controlled drug offences decreased by 11% and weapons and explosive offences by 8.2%. There was also a significant increase - of 138.8% - in the number of cases detected of cultivation or manufacture of drugs. This shows that the Government's policies on tackling crime and the resources made available, along with the outstanding work of the dedicated members of An Garda Síochána, are having a positive effect.

While there is no acceptable level of homicide, the number of cases of murder and manslaughter combined showed no increase between 2008 and 2009 and a decrease of 8.3% in the third quarter of 2010. The Gardaí face severe challenges in dealing with gangland murders. It was partly against that background that I introduced greatly strengthened legislation in the area of organised crime which is being fully utilised by An Garda Síochána, including the Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009, the Criminal Justice (Surveillance) Act 2009, the Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Act 2009 and the Criminal Procedure Act 2010, which ends the ban on retrying persons who have been acquitted in specified circumstances and provides for reform of the law on victim impact statements.

I have introduced further significant legislative proposals in the Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Bill, and I will not hesitate to introduce additional measures if that becomes necessary. I have also secured Government approval to commence work on a new Bail Bill to consolidate and update bail law with a view to presenting a clear, accessible and modern statement of the law.

There was a worrying increase of 2.2% in property theft shown in the 2009 figures, but the statistics for the third quarter of 2010 show decreases in burglary and related offences (down 16.6%) and theft and related offences (down 0.5%). These two categories make up the greatest proportion of property offences. Both the Commissioner and I have been concerned at the level of property crime and one of the policing priorities which I set for An Garda Síochána in 2010 is achieving maximum levels of safety for local communities. An Garda Síochána will continue to develop and implement strategies to target those committing such crimes, which are often carried out against vulnerable members of the community.

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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Question 180: To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the total number of crimes of all catergories, committed, reported and recorded in County Kildare in each of the past three years and to date in 2010; the number of prosecutions taken, pending or concluded; the number of convictions as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43356/10]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose. I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.

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