Reported sex crimes increase 10% in the last year, crime data shows

Robberies up 15%, weapons and explosives offences up 10% in the year to June, CSO says

Overall, nine of 14 categories of crime reported to the Garda increased during the 12-month period. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

Overall, nine of 14 categories of crime reported to the Garda increased during the 12-month period. Photograph: Dara Mac Dónaill

 

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) has said an increase in reported sex crimes in Ireland highlighted the need for more specialist Garda units that have been promised but so far not delivered.

Data released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Monday shows a rise in sexual offences in Ireland of more than 10 per cent in the year to June.

While homicides remained unchanged, nine of 14 categories of reported crime increased during the 12-month period.

However, responding to the 10.2 per cent increase in sex offences, the DRCC said it was illustrative of the need for more specialist services.

Chief executive Noeline Blackwell said six new divisional protective service units were due to open during 2018 but have yet to materialise.

Four pilot units opened last year at which stage the Garda said the remaining 25 divisions would come on stream from the beginning of this year.

The units are staffed by gardaí specially trained to investigate allegations of sexual offences and other sensitive crimes.

They should be “fully equipped and delivered sooner than immediately. They should be in place right now,” Ms Blackwell said.

“We know it’s difficult enough to report [sex crimes] and when people do report they need to be treated with a level of expertise that are needed to prosecute these crimes.”

The Garda did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Increase in reporting

The CSO data recorded 2,947 sexual offences to the end of June, compared to 2,675 over the previous 12 months, an additional 272 incidents.

Ms Blackwell said the numbers were difficult to interpret in the absence of comprehensive baseline research.

The 10 per cent rise could point to an increase in crime or, alternatively, in the number of people reporting them, she said. About 10 per cent of abuse victims are thought to make complaints.

“If it is being reported more then we aren’t seeing a surge in the amount of specialist services that are available to people and it’s one of the areas that gardaí recognise need specialist services.”

CSO figures released on Monday make up the third set of quarterly data since the suspension of crime statistics last year. That followed concerns over how some offences had been categorised on the Garda Pulse system.

Since then, the data has been published with an “under reservation” caveat, meaning their reliability is qualified. The CSO and Garda management are working to establish a robust system that would allow that classification to be removed, a process likely to take at least another year.

In the meantime, the latest numbers show increases in several areas from sexual offences (10.2 per cent), to robbery, including extortion and hijacking (15.1 per cent).

Bail breaches

There were also rises in the number of “offences against Government” crimes (13.1 per cent), which cover breaches of bail and domestics violence orders handed down by courts. These rose from 12,565 to 14,205.

Homicides remained unchanged with 77 recorded in each of the two 12-month periods.

The number of weapons and explosives offences increase by 10.7 per cent; and attempts or threats to murder, assaults, harassments and related offences increased by 8.3 per cent.

There were less significant rises in the numbers of public order and social offences (4.3 per cent), controlled drug offences (3.6 per cent), and theft (2 per cent).

Kidnapping instances fell by 18.1 per cent (from 127 to 104) but of the 14 designated categories, just four declined – the others being damage to property and the environment (3 per cent), fraud and deception (2.5 per cent), and burglary (0.8 per cent).

Although volumes fell, theft was still the most common crime with 68,248 recorded over the period. They were followed by public order offences at 31,320 reported incidents.