Only 11% of sex crimes reported in 2018 were solved by Garda

Drug crime had highest detection rate at 85% while for homicides it was 72%

New Garda crime detention figures have been published by the CSO following a four-year suspension amid concerns over their accuracy. File image: Gareth Chaney Collins

New Garda crime detention figures have been published by the CSO following a four-year suspension amid concerns over their accuracy. File image: Gareth Chaney Collins


Only one in 10 sexual offences reported to the Garda last year have been solved, new data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) reveals.

The detection rate for sex crimes, of 11 per cent, is the lowest of any crime type. In other crime categories the Garda has a much better record, with detection rates of up to 85 per cent.

The highest rate of detection, at 85 per cent, is for drugs offences. The detection rate for murder-manslaughter is 72 per cent.

The Policing Authority said the low detection rates for many crime types had been “a significant source of concern” for it and the issue was one it would continue to raise with senior Garda management.

Clíona Saidléar, executive director of Rape Crisis Network Ireland, said the fact so few sexual crimes reported in 2018 had been detected, or solved, to date underlined how slow the system moved. “To have to wait for years to learn the outcome of the investigation and whether or not you will be one of the few whose case goes to trial or conviction, is added distress,” she said.

A report on delays in the prosecution of sexual offences in the North was released six months ago yet Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan had yet to release the report for the Republic, Ms Saidléar added.

Mr Flanagan issued a statement that made no comment on the low rates of detection for sexual crimes, or any other crime type. Instead he commented generally on how changes made to the Garda Pulse crime database system had improved the accuracy of the detection rates published by the CSO on Tuesday.

All crimes

The figures published were for all crimes reported to the Garda in 2018 and showed how many of them had been detected by the end of August this year.

Detection rates for the main crime types were as follows: drugs offences 85 per cent; public order 81 per cent; homicide, 75 per cent; weapons and explosives offences, 75 per cent; theft and related offences, 33 per cent; robbery, extortion and hijacking offences, 26 per cent; fraud, deception and related offences, 21 per cent; Burglary and related offences, 16 per cent; sexual offences: 11 per cent.

The detection rates for crimes reported to the Garda in 2018 should increase over time as many crimes do not result in a sanction until six to 12 months, or perhaps longer, after the crime is committed.

The new crime data published on Tuesday by the CSO is the first set of figures for detected, or solved, crime since the Garda’s Pulse system was updated and members of the Garda lost the total discretion they had to mark any crime they were investigating as “detected”.

No suspect

That discretion meant even for those offences where no suspect was ever charged or even arrested, they could be recorded as “detected”.

Under changes made to Pulse, a crime recorded on the system will be automatically marked as “detected” only when some form of sanction has arisen; a summons to court, a conviction, caution, fine and penalty points, among others.

The CSO had suspended publication of crime detection data in 2016 due to concerns over the accuracy of record keeping by the Garda. However, in recent years it has worked with the Garda to improve the quality of crime data, including making changes to Pulse to ensure only crimes that meet certain criteria can been classified as “detected”.

Work between the CSO and Garda on improving the accuracy of all crime statistics remains ongoing. However, it was expected all crime data would continue to be published by the CSO “under reservation”; a status intended to show more progress is required to guarantee the data was fully accurate.