Crime rates show signs of increase as economy recovers

Garda Commissioner plans specialist operations to tackle burglary hotspots

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said the increase had come after a “sustained period of reductions”. Photograph: Alan Betson

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan said the increase had come after a “sustained period of reductions”. Photograph: Alan Betson

 

Crime has begun to increase after years of decline, with almost half of all the main crime categories showing a higher number of recorded offences.

However, the methodology upon which the figures are collated has been found to be problematic, calling into question the accuracy of all official crime data today.

The Garda and Central Statistics Office (CSO) have said that, while plans are being implemented to try to resolve the shortcomings, the process has not yet begun.

At the end of last year the CSO ceased publishing quarterly crime statistics after concerns were expressed in a Garda Inspectorate report about how the Garda was counting crime.

Ongoing issues

Of the 14 main crime categories, six showed increases and eight were flat or revealed a fall in the number of crimes recorded.

The trends emerge after most crime types have continually fallen since the economic collapse in 2007-2008. Some Garda sources believe consumer spending on alcohol and drugs has fallen, leading to a decline in drink and drug fuelled crime.

Other sources say reduced numbers of gardaí on the beat has meant some crime has simply gone unseen.

According to the latest data, burglaries increased by 8 per cent in the 12 months to the end of March.

Garda Commissioner Nóirín O’Sullivan expressed her concern at the trend but said the increase had come after a “sustained period of reductions”.

“We have been aware of this rise and several months ago put in place specialist anti-burglary units in Dublin to target prolific burglars and work with communities with high amounts of this crime,” she said. Other measures were being planned, including additional patrols in burglary hotspots.

Assaults, murder attempts and related offences also increased, up 8 per cent in the 12-month period to the end of March this year.

Sexual offences increased by 3 per cent, kidnapping and related offences were up by 2.4 per cent, theft and related offences increased by 1.3 per cent and fraud and deception based offences were up by 1.7 per cent.

The increases aside, a number of crime types have fallen in the 12 months to the end of March, and some of them very significantly.

For example, the number of homicides recorded has fallen by 40 per cent; 58 cases were recorded in the 12 months under review compared with 97 in the previous corresponding period.