Crime Statistics Ireland
Since the economic crisis began in 2008, most crime rates have fallen. Yet robberies and violent assaults remain high on the media agenda and they fuel public debate. In the first of a week-long series, CONOR LALLYlooks at what’s happening on the streets and asks why fewer crimes are being reported to and detected by the Garda
IN A summer punctuated by high-profile crimes, one night in June stands out.
Dublin was buzzing the weekend after midsummer, with the normal city-centre weekend crowd boosted by tens of thousands of people out enjoying themselves after the Westlife concert, as Saturday night turned to Sunday morning. In the hours that followed, two people making their way home after meeting friends would be assaulted with shocking violence.
On the south side of the city, a 23-year-old woman was leaving a pub near Tara Street train station at 2.45am when she was attacked. A section of one of her nostrils was bitten off.
On the same night, another violent attack took place less than a kilometre away. Journalist Eugene Moloney (55) was punched in the head and fell to the ground on Lower Camden Street as he made his way home to Portobello just before 4.30am. He was pronounced dead after he was transferred to St James’s Hospital. A post mortem revealed he died of head injuries from a single punch.
In the days that followed those two city-centre attacks, radio chat shows were inundated with people anxious to share their experiences of street crime and random violence. One newspaper responded by launching a “Make Our Streets Safe” campaign.
Two days later, it was organised crime that dominated the news. Some 400kg of cocaine was seized in west Dublin, the third-biggest drugs consignment ever found here. Garda Commissioner Martin Callinan addressed the media in the press briefing that followed.
Less than two weeks later, a concert headlined by the Swedish House Mafia on July 7th hit the headlines, after a series of stabbings, fatal overdoses, robberies at knife point and drink- and drug-fuelled fights took place at Phoenix Park, where the concert was taking place.
A week later, a Co Wicklow antiques dealer and his partner were beaten and robbed at gunpoint in their home, while the following week a raid by Garda specialist units in Co Carlow saw seven men arrested for questioning in relation to a string of up to 70 robberies, some involving ATM machines being ripped from the walls of post offices and banks with stolen heavy-plant machinery.
It appeared for much of this summer like it was business as usual when it came to street violence and robberies by gangs. Yet the crime scene in the Republic has changed significantly in recent years.
The State’s crime statisticsare comprised of crimes reported by victims and those unearthed by gardaí themselves. Since the economic crisis took hold, the trends are substantially down.The most detailed crime data available, which is at the centre of a week-long series starting in The Irish Times today, suggests Irish streets are not as mean as they used to be.
In the year to the end of March, headline or serious crime had fallen in all but two of the 15 crime categories, burglaries and thefts from the person being the only categories to show an increase.
Interpreting crime statistics is a tricky business, as the CSO repeatedly warns. Published statistics only include crimes that “become known or are reported to gardaí”. The CSO says that whether a crime comes to the attention of gardaí depends on a number of factors including the “perceived seriousness of the crime, the financial loss involved and beliefs around whether the gardaí are in a position to do anything about the crime”. It estimated in 2007 that “about 30 per cent” of burglaries were unreported, as were nearly four in 10 incidents of theft with violence. Offences of a sexual nature and domestic violence are “grossly under-recorded”.