Falls in crime since onset of recession continue

All major crimes drop in past year except kidnapping up by 6%

Despite the continued falling crime rates, some of offence types within the broader headings will be a cause of worry for both the Government and Garda.  Photograph: Nall Carson/PA Wire

Despite the continued falling crime rates, some of offence types within the broader headings will be a cause of worry for both the Government and Garda. Photograph: Nall Carson/PA Wire

Fri, Jun 28, 2013, 13:31

The falls in recorded crime seen across the Republic since the onset of recession have continued into 2013, with most crimes showing further decreases in the first three months of the year.

However, the offence of importing drugs has increased and anecdotally the quantities of illegal drugs now being seized are in multi-million Euro consignments. This is a change on recent years when seizures were most of a lower value.

It may prove to be the start of something of a resurgence for organised drug crime, though any such trend could only be assessed at the end of the year.

In the figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) today, all major crime types except one have seen a drop in recorded crime in the 12 month period to the end of March.

Only “kidnapping and related offences” have seen an increase of late, rising 6 per cent, albeit from a low base of 103 offences in the previous corresponding 12 months period.

Of the trends in 15 main offence categories published by the CSO, homicide has fallen by 4 per cent in the 12 months to the end of March. Sexual offences were now by 7 per cent in the same period, burglary down 9 per cent, drug crime down by 13 per cent and weapons offences - which includes gun crime - down by 14 per cent.

The category of “damage to property” has fallen by 10 per cent and public disorder has dropped by 10 per cent.

However, despite the continued falling crime rates, some of offence types within the broader headings will be a cause of worry for both the Government and Garda.

In the first quarter of last year, for example, there were eight “importation of drugs” offences recorded though this had risen to 20 such crimes in the first quarter of 2013. And within the “weapons offences” category, the crime of “discharge of a firearm” appears to have stabilised - at between 35 and 40 offences per quarter - after a period since the end of 2007 in which gun crime has halved.

While Minister for Justice Alan Shatter has welcomed the falling burglary rates after worrying sustained increases in recent years while all other crime was falling, less welcomed is the rise in the often traumatic crime of theft from the person; up by one third to 1,437 cases in the first quarter of this year compared with the same period last year.

Many of these cases include thieves targeting expensive mobile phones which are attractive to them because they can be easily sold and in many cases are impossible to trace once stolen.

Mr Shatter said the Garda could not tackle this kind of crime alone, saying it was often made easy for those with criminal intent.

“I would urge members of the public to take great care with regard to how they use and where they keep their phones as they go about their daily lives. We are all mobile phone users and I believe a great deal can be done by each of us to ensure our phones are secure.”

He added the decline in burglaries was attributable to the success of the Garda’s Operation Fiacla, launched at the start of last year to target burglaries and also gangs travelling around the country carrying out large scale planned burglaries.

In the period to the end of May, some 5,233 people were arrested under the operation and 2,903 charged with burglary offences as a result.