Written answers

Tuesday, 16 June 2020

Department of Justice and Equality

Crime Data

Roderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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371. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of recorded incidents of racially motivated crime in each of the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11259/20]

Photo of Charles FlanaganCharles Flanagan (Laois-Offaly, Fine Gael)
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I would like to assure the Deputy that I am fully committed to equality for all in Irish society and attach great importance to the fight against discrimination.  I  condemn the actions of the small minority who subject others to abuse or attack resulting from their own prejudice or intolerance.

As I have set out in a number of recent Parliamentary Questions, my Department is working as a priority to develop new legislation addressing both hate speech and hate crime.

In terms of the current law, the Deputy will be aware that other than the Prohibition of Incitement to Hatred Act 1989 prohibits certain forms of threatening, abusive or insulting conduct that are intended or likely to stir up hatred against a group of persons on account of certain characteristics. These characteristics are race, colour, nationality, religion, ethnic or national origins, membership of the travelling community and sexual orientation.

I understand that there have been in the region of 50 prosecutions since the enactment of the 1989 Act.

Other than in relation to incitement and again as the Deputy will appreciate, a hate motive is an aggravating factor that judges can take into account (on a non-statutory basis) at sentencing for any criminal offence.

I understand that An Garda Síochána has reported, at a national level, on hate-based motivations for crime incidents in previous annual reports.  The figures furnished in those annual reports for crime incidents with hate motivations during the last 5 years are as follows:

2015: 164

2016: 290

2017: 324

2018: 340

2019: 250

2020 (to date, up to 15 June): 90

I am informed that hate-related motivations have historically not been recorded for incidents that do not meet the threshold of criminality (i.e. non-crime incidents).

I am further informed by the Garda authorities that An Garda Síochána fully accepts that there is under-recording of hate motivated crimes.  However significant actions are underway to improve internal recording of hate related incidents and also to encourage more reporting by the public.  In particular, the Garda Diversity and Integration Strategy has a significant focus on enhancing the identification, reporting, investigation and prosecution of hate crimes. 

This includes the introduction in that Strategy of a working definition by An Garda Síochána in relation to their investigation and recording of hate crimes, to the effect that a hate crime is “any criminal offence which is perceived by the victim or any other person to, in whole or in part, be motivated by hostility or prejudice, based on actual or perceived age, disability, race, colour, nationality, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation or gender.”

Finally, as part of the Diversity and Integration Strategy, An Garda Síochána is upgrading PULSE to capture hate related motivations for all incidents, both crime and non-crime. I am confident that this will enable more accurate collation of data in relation to these crimes and incidents in the future.

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