Tuesday, 22 October 2019
Department of Justice and Equality
Central Statistics Office Data
236. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality his views on recently published figures collated by the CSO for the 12 months up 30 June 2019 indicating crime rates have increased markedly since the economic recovery compared to the period immediately after the crash; and the steps being taken to address this trend. [42956/19]
The Deputy will be aware that the Central Statistics Office (CSO), as the national statistics agency, is responsible for the publication of recorded crime statistics.
Although it is clear that challenges remain, there is also a lot to welcome in the crime statistics published by the CSO for Q2 this year. Gardaí are achieving significant successes in a range of crime categories and should be commended for their efforts.
There has been a decrease of over 40% in the number of recorded homicide incidents in the second quarter of 2019, when compared to the same period in 2018. The CSO figures also identify a decrease of 9.8% in burglary and related offences at the end of Q2 2019, when compared to the same period last year. While the figures in relation to Theft offences were similar to the same period last year, incidents of ‘theft from person’ offences have decreased by 11%.
In regard to the increase in recorded incidents of fraud, deception and related incidents of 34.4% in Q2 2019 when compared to the same period in 2018, a range of measures are being taken to prevent and combat fraud, including insurance fraud. Gardaí are taking steps to ensure consistency in how reports of fraud are received, recorded and disseminated for investigation. Changes have also been made to the Pulse system to improve the quality and consistency of recording of insurance related crime.
Incidents of controlled drugs offences were up 16.5% when compared to the same period last year, continuing a trend seen in the CSO figures for Q1 2019. The upward trend in recorded incidents of controlled drug offences remains 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. Collaboration at an inter-agency and international level remain key in tackling this issue.
There has been an increase of 9.2% in the number of reported sexual offences, representing a total of 3,286 incidents. 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. The Government is committed to preventing and addressing sexual crime in all its forms and we are working hard, on a whole-of-Government basis, to do so. I very much welcome the fact hat more victims are coming forward to Gardaí and I urge victims to continue to do so.
The laws surrounding sexual offences have been significantly strengthened in recent years and An Garda Síochána is continuously improving its specialist services to respond to the needs of victims. Ten Divisional Protective Service Units have already been established and similar units are being rolled out nationwide, with specially trained officers responsible for engagement with and interviewing of victims. These Units will support the delivery of a consistent, professional and sensitive approach to the investigation of sexual crime.
It is also incumbent on all of society to continue to examine behaviour and attitudes in relation to sexual crime. I launched ‘No Excuses’, a 3-year national awareness raising campaign on sexual harassment and sexual violence in May of this year, with the aim of increasing awareness of sexual violence and to bring about changes in societal attitudes.
The statistics released by the CSO further support the independent assessment of Garda performance by the Policing Authority, released in September 2019, which found that “almost all of the commitments in the policing plan aimed at reducing crime and the fear of crime are on target”. That report also pointed to a ‘clear sense of pace, effort and direction’ in An Garda Síochána.
And finally, I would note that these results are being achieved at a time of record investment in An Garda Síochána. €1.76 billion has been allocated to the Garda Vote for 2019, as well as capital investment amounting to € 92 million this year. Furthermore, the allocation for 2020 is increasing by €122 million to an unprecedented total of €1.88 billion. The capital allocation to An Garda Síochána is also increasing by 26% to a total of €116.5 million.
We now have over 14,200 Gardaí nationwide, supported by over 2,800 Garda staff. And the organisation is continuing to grow - a programme of accelerated recruitment is ongoing with a view to reaching 15,000 Gardaí in an overall Garda workforce of 21,000 by 2021. Taken together, this increased recruitment of Gardaí and civilian staff is leading to a real increase in Gardaí on the ground in our communities, where their training and policing expertise can be used to best effect in the interests of public safety.