Number of sex crimes reported to Garda now at all-time high

Increase in sex crimes reported to Garda coincides with period of #MeToo movement

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said victims of sex offences should come forward and can be confident of a professional approach from gardaí. File photograph: Collins

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said victims of sex offences should come forward and can be confident of a professional approach from gardaí. File photograph: Collins

 

The number of sexual crimes being reported to the Garda has surged to a record high and is well on course to pass a worrying new benchmark by year end.

The first and second quarters of the year set a record for the number of sex crimes, including sexual assault and rape, ever reported in the Republic; some 820 and 811 respectively.

New Central Statistics Office figures released on Thursday, for the third quarter of the year, confirm that in the 12 months to the end of September sex crimes increased by a significant 12 per cent.

Sex crimes reached their highest ever level for any 12-month period, at 3,086 crimes.

Senior officers pointed out that the 2,000 mark was only surpassed for the first time ever three years ago, meaning the reporting of sex crimes has surged since then.

However, the same sources said sex crimes are notoriously under-reported, with many victims reluctant to ever come forward to the Garda.

“One of our big goals has been to encourage more victims to take the step and report what happened to them, so this increase may not be all bad news,” said one officer.

However, he conceded it was not clear if the number of sex crimes being reported to the gardaí was increasing because more crimes were being committed or because victims were more willing to come forward.

Noeline Blackwell of Dublin Rape Crisis has told The Irish Times while the #MeToo movement may be encouraging more victims, especially women, to come forward, the Belfast rape trial may also have dissuaded others.

#MeToo movement

However, the increase in the number of sex crimes being reported to the Garda appears to coincide with the #MeToo movement which began just over a year ago.

Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said victims of sex offences should come forward and can be confident of a professional approach from gardaí. He said the National Protective Services Bureau was working hard to improve the force’s approach to sex crime victims and investigations.

“I can assure all members of the public that gardaí will be on hand to support all those who come forward where they will be treated at all times in a professional and sensitive manner,” Mr Flanagan said.

The figures for all crime types published on Thursday were released ‘under reservation’ because the CSO remains concerned about shortcomings with the crime data being supplied to it by the Garda.

Apart from the continued increase in recorded sex crimes, homicides were down by 19 per cent while hijacking, extortion and robbery crimes were up by 23 per cent.

Burglaries decreased to a record low; falling 6.4 per cent in the 12 months to the end of September to 17,673.

Public order crimes have increased by 2.5 per cent; with drink-related offending an increasing problem for gardaí as the night time economy recovers.

Drug consumption, another crime linked to higher disposable incomes , has increased, with the number of drug crimes increasing by six per cent in the 12 months to the end of September. Fraud and related offences were up by nine per cent during the same period.