CSO testing methods to conduct survey of sexual crime in Ireland

Data may help to determine why incidents of sexual crime are under-reported to gardaí

A detailed statistical picture of sexual crime in Ireland is to be compiled for the first time in a move aimed at examining why incidents can be under-reported to gardaí.

The Central Statistics Office (CSO) is looking at how it can survey thousands of people on whether they have been the victim of sexual crime and if they reported it. This level of detail has not been recorded up to now due to the sensitivity of surveying potential survivors of assaults and abuse.

The CSO is currently testing a new call centre in which this and other data can be compiled outside of traditional house calls.

‘Easy as possible’

“We want to make it as easy as possible [for people],” said


Olive Loughnane

, a statistician in the CSO’s crime division.

“These are the types of things that people might be more comfortable talking about over the phone than face-to-face.”

Sexual offences data would be compiled as part of the CSO quarterly national household survey which examines unemployment and various other social issues.*

The comprehensive research, taking in about 20,000 households, has in the past focused on other crimes such as burglary, vandalism, mobile phone theft, assault and fraud, but sexual crime has not been included.

Complicating factor

Information on people’s experiences in relation to sexual crime could be particularly valuable as the under-reporting of such incidents has long been a complicating factor in addressing the wider societal issue.

While the data will give insights into under-reporting, it is not a correction of Garda statistics, which only measure incidents in which formal complaints are made.

The survey approach for all types of crimes is to ask if a household has been affected by crime and to inquire about people’s worries about becoming a victim and their confidence in the criminal justice system and the Garda.

*This article was amended on March 7th 2017

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard

Mark Hilliard is a reporter with The Irish Times