Call for ethnicity of assault victims to be recorded, as street violence rises

Data could inform prevention of hate crime, says Immigrant Council of Ireland

Sources said it was impossible to determine if foreign nationals were over-represented as victims of assault in the Republic. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

Sources said it was impossible to determine if foreign nationals were over-represented as victims of assault in the Republic. File photograph: Bryan O’Brien/The Irish Times

 

The Republic’s crime statistics should set out the ethnicity of assault victims to determine if foreign nationals are over-represented in street attacks, the Immigrant Council of Ireland has said.

The call comes after it emerged that a major national policing operation was about to get underway in a bid to halt the record number of assaults in public places.

In a follow-up exercise, The Irish Times sought accounts from people who had been assaulted or had witnessed attacks, and over two thirds of those who replied were foreign nationals.

Chief executive of the Immigrant Council of Ireland, Brian Killoran, believes the ethnicity of victims should be recorded and published, saying it would better aid the Garda’s response to assaults.

“The lack of data on the ethnicity of those being assaulted is a major gap and something which should be collected,” he said.

“It would identify if there is over-representation of foreign nationals and inform a targeted approach to better tackle crime which could be hate-related.”

Unusable data

Mr Killoran added that four years ago the Garda’s Pulse database was updated to include 11 categories of hate-related crime. However, he added the State had already acknowledged in its report to the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination that the information was not being gathered in a way the Central Statistics Office could use.

“Ireland is under examination by the committee in December and this gap is likely to be brought up,” Mr Killoran said.

Informed sources in the non-government sector, and in the Garda said in the absence of official data, it was impossible to determine if foreign nationals were over-represented as victims of assault in the Republic.

A number of Garda sources said the increase in assaults was most pronounced in Dublin and other urban centres. They believed it was linked to a recovery in the night-time economy. Some added because Garda numbers were increasing they would expect more crimes, including street attacks, to be detected.

Garda Headquarters had not responded to a request for comment about whether foreign nationals were over-represented in attack victim numbers.

The Policing Authority has asked the Garda to study the assault statistics and determine how many were incidents of domestic violence.