Assaults of young male victims up 78% after Covid restrictions eased

Fraud offences continue to rise sharply as murder rate falls, latest CSO data shows

Assaults involving young men increased by almost 80 per cent in the first quarter of this year, compared with the same period in 2021 when Covid-19 restrictions were in effect.

The start of this year also saw fraud offences continuing to rise sharply, a pattern which began during the pandemic.

In its latest crime statistics release, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) said there had been a 45 per cent increase in assaults and related offences in quarter one of this year, compared with quarter one of 2021 (from 2,162 to 3,154).

Male victims aged 18-19 accounted for the largest increase in this category, rising from 516 to 919 (78 per cent).

Assaults involving male victims aged 45-59 increased by 52 per cent and those involving women aged 60 and over rose by 50 per cent.

Fraud offences rose by 11 per cent in first quarter. But if the entire 12-month period to March 2022 is taken into account, it rose by 88 per cent compared with the previous 12 months. The CSO said this had been driven largely by “by unauthorised transactions and attempts to obtain personal or banking information online or by phone”.

Most other crime categories saw an increase in the year ending March 2022, including sexual offences (13 per cent) and kidnapping and related offences (38 per cent).

One of the few exceptions was homicide offences, which fell by 38 per cent, drug offences (down 26 per cent) and weapons offences (down 15 per cent).

“The figures for 2020 and 2021 for some crime categories are likely to have been influenced by the public health restrictions imposed as a result of Covid-19,” the CSO said in a statement.

Offences related to breaches of Covid-19 offences dropped to just 85 in the first three months of 2022, down from 311 during the previous three months. The majority of Covid-19 restrictions were lifted by the Government in February of this year.

The CSO also examined the impact of the improper or premature cancellation of 999 calls by gardaí which is being examined by the Policing Authority.

It said this practice may have resulted in offences not being entered into the Pulse system and therefore not being included in crime statistics.

Gardaí have carried out a preliminary investigation into the cancellation of calls relating only to serious crimes, including domestic violence, sexual assault and missing people, and found that 143 incidents which were not record on Pulse.

These records have since been created. The CSO said in volume terms they had a “very small effect” on crime statistics during the 21 months in question.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times