Cases of driving under influence of drugs more than doubled last year

Lockdown led to sharp fall in many types of crime including drink driving, CSO says

The CSO recorded significant falls in theft (down 24.5 per cent), robbery (down 22.9 per cent), assaults (down 13.2 per cent) and sexual offences (down 10.6 per cent) compared with 2019. Photograph: iStock

The CSO recorded significant falls in theft (down 24.5 per cent), robbery (down 22.9 per cent), assaults (down 13.2 per cent) and sexual offences (down 10.6 per cent) compared with 2019. Photograph: iStock

 

The number of burglaries recorded last year were more than a third lower than in 2019, according to latest figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

There were also significant falls in reported theft (down 24.5 per cent), robbery (down 22.9 per cent), assaults (down 13.2 per cent) and sexual offences (down 10.6 per cent) compared with 2019.

The CSO has said continuing lockdown measures in response to the Covid-19 pandemic are likely to have contributed to the sharp fall.

Assaults on men fell by 19 per cent, while there was a lower decline of 6.4 per cent in assaults on women.

The number of females aged between 30 and 44 who reported assaults increased by 2.1 per cent last year compared with 2019 – the only age cohort among men or women where an increase was observed.

Weapons and explosives offences (up 14.9 per cent) and drugs offences (up 9.1 per cent) both increased in 2020. Crimes classified as damage to property and to the environment fell by 11 per cent and public order offences fell by 10.6 per cent.

The number of homicides recorded rose by nine compared with 2019 but was driven by an increase of 10 in the number of incidents classified as dangerous driving leading to death, according to the CSO. The combined figure for murder and manslaughter incidents fell by one compared with 2019.

Cases of driving under the influence of drugs more than doubled with 2,643 incidents recorded while recorded cases of drink-driving dropped by over a fifth.

Minister for Justice Helen McEntee said she noted with “some concern” the substantial increase in the number of recorded incidents of driving while under the influence of drugs.

“This is in stark contrast with the downwards trend in incidents of driving while over the legal alcohol limit,” she said. “While this is parallel to the increased number of Garda checkpoints during the public health emergency, such a profound increase is a troubling trend.”

There were 1,101 breaches of Covid-19 regulations which were classified as crimes by gardaí in 2020 including breaches of domestic travel restrictions, breaches by licensed premises, failure to wear face coverings and breaches of international travel.

The CSO said there was “considerable variation” in the number of incidents of crime recorded at different times during 2020 and it is likely Covid-19 measures played a role in these variations.

The number of incidents classified as robbery, extortion and hijacking offences, burglary and related offences and theft were at their highest levels during the first quarter of 2020 and then fell to their lowest levels during quarter two.

In contrast, weapons and explosives offences and controlled drug offences were at their lowest levels during quarter one and then rose to their highest levels during quarter two.

Attempts/threats to murder, assaults, harassments and related offences, sexual offences and public order offences were highest for 2020 during quarter three.

The CSO has said the latest crime statistics are categorised as “under reservation” which indicates “that the quality of these statistics do not meet the standards required of official statistics published by the CSO”.