Crime rates rose sharply after lockdown restrictions eased, figures show

Burglary, sexual crimes, public order offences and other crimes fell during pandemic

 

Crime rates increased immediately in the Republic once strict lockdown conditions were eased last month, a new report shows.

Reports to the Garda of burglary, sexual crimes, public order offences and other crimes significantly increased in recent weeks compared to the much lower levels witnessed during the strict lock-down period.

Property crime fell from almost 7,000 offences per months before the pandemic to about 3,500 crimes in April but increased back to about 4,000 last month, according to Garda Commissioner Drew Harris’s monthly report to the Policing Authority for May.

Before Covid-19, about 1,500 burglaries were being reported each month. That fell to 500 in April before increasing to about 600 in May.

The number of sexual offences recorded by the Garda had been as high as about 275 per month but decreased to about 160 in April before increasing again to about 210 last month.

Public order crime rebounded very strongly and is now higher than levels seen for the pandemic. Last December, just over 2,500 public order crimes were recorded in the Republic, falling to below 2,000 in both January and Feruary.

When the lockdown was introduced, public order crimes reduced further before climbing back again in May, to about 2,400 reported incidents.

However, when crime trends for the period of April-May this year are compared with the same months last year, recorded crime was significantly lower, according to Mr Harris’s report.

When crime trends for the period of April-May this year are compared with the same months last year, recorded crime was significantly lower. File Photograph: PA Wire
When crime trends for the period of April-May this year are compared with the same months last year, recorded crime was significantly lower. File Photograph: PA Wire

Property-related crime was down by 47.5 per cent while residential and commercial burglaries were down by 56 per cent and 53 per cent respectively. Crimes against the person were down by 23 per cent, with the number of sexual offences recorded down by 41 per cent.

Criminal damage was 23 per cent lower and public order offences fell by nine per cent.

The report by Mr Harris also states some fraud and cyber crimes increased during the pandemic period as organised criminals sought to take advantage of Covid-19.

In May, there were 73 reports of large-scale cyber crimes that attempted to extract people’s payment card details to defraud them; up 19 per cent on the same period last year.

Evidence had also emerged that some fraudsters were claiming the pandemic social welfare payment, which has been as high as €350 per week, though they were not entitled to do so. They included people claiming the payment despite not being resident in the Republic.

The Garda National Immigration Bureau at Dublin Airport continued to liaise with the special investigation unit at the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection to identify people leaving the jurisdiction who were no longer entitled to the payment. That had resulted in “substantial savings” to date, Mr Harris reported.