Cases of child care orders more than double
LAST YEAR saw a big increase in court cases concerning debt, a more than doubling of child care orders, and increases in rape, fraud and robbery cases, according to the annual report of the Courts Service.
It also saw a fall in the number of cases involving drink-driving and other driving offences and in the number of judicial reviews – more than half of which relate to asylum matters.
The courts processed 726,961 matters in 2011, the vast majority (615,789) in the District Court. Of the cases disposed of in this court, rather than referred to a higher court, almost 60 per cent related to road traffic offences.
The Central Criminal Court saw an increase in the number of rape cases before it, up 27 per cent on 2010 and up 52 per cent on 2009, with 80 cases last year.
Murder cases were also up, with an 8 per cent increase on 2010 and a 26 per cent increase on 2009.
In both instances, the cases were likely to relate to crimes committed in previous years, so these statistics are not in line with Garda statistics for the same years.
Dangerous driving and drink driving offences, meanwhile, were down last year. The largest category of offences dealt with by the Circuit Criminal Court was theft, fraud and robbery, followed by drug offences, which together accounted for more than half. The vast majority of cases before this court (87 per cent) are disposed of by a guilty plea.
In the civil courts, there were almost 22,000 cases for breach of contract and recovery of debt in the Circuit Court, a 21 per cent increase on 2010 and representing 50 per cent of all civil claims.
There were 3,783 judgments for debt recovery in the High Court, an increase of 35 per cent, and there was a 38 per cent increase in execution of debt orders in that court, a total of 4,443.
Applications to wind up companies, new bankruptcies and judgment mortgages also all showed increases, with a total of 7,549 judgment mortgages (where a mortgage is registered against a property to meet a debt) in the Circuit and High Courts. The number of orders for possession fell in the High Court but rose by almost exactly the same amount (15 per cent) in the Circuit Court.
In family law, there was only a slight variation in the number of judicial separations and divorces sought since 2010. Three-quarters of the 1,379 applications for judicial separation were made by wives, while the 3,358 applications for divorce were split evenly between husbands and wives.
A striking statistic was the fact that care orders for children at risk sought by the Health Service Executive in the District Court more than doubled in 2011, with 2,287 such orders granted, a rise of 119 per cent on the 2010 figure. This does not include emergency and interim care orders, a spokesman for the Courts Service said.
Regarding domestic violence, the courts saw an increase of 38 per cent in interim barring orders, which are granted without the barred person being heard, from 530 in 2010 to 731. The total number of domestic violence applications (barring, protection and safety orders) rose from 9,779 in 2010 to 10,652 in 2011.
ON THE RISE COURT ORDERS
Regarding domestic violence, the courts saw an increase of 38% in interim barring orders
The Central Criminal Court saw an increase in the number of rape cases of 27%
Cases for breach of contract and recovery of debt in the Circuit Court rose by 21%
Care orders for children at risk sought by the HSE in the District Court more than doubled in 2011, with 2,287 such orders granted, up 119%
Judgments for debt recovery in the High Court increased by 35% and there was a 38% increase in debt orders