Sexual offences and fraud on the rise in Ireland

Figures from CSO shows sexual crimes saw a 10% increase in the past year

Sexual offences: the first quarter saw a 10 per cent rise from 2,938 to 3,231. Photograph: iStock

Sexual offences: the first quarter saw a 10 per cent rise from 2,938 to 3,231. Photograph: iStock

 

More detailed and consistent information is needed to help better understand and respond to rising rates of sexual crime in the State, the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre has said.

The number of sexual offences being reported has continued to rise over the last two year, according to data from the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which show a 10 per cent increase from 2,938 to 3,231 in the year to the end of March.

Other data showed fraud and deception related offences were but by 28.5 per cent, from 5,322 to 6,841 over the same 12 month period.

The number of recorded drug offences increased by 16.2 per cent, from 16,564 to 19,247.

However, burglary and related offences fell by 10.3 per cent to 16,766 incidents. Damage to property and environment offences decreased by 5.8 per cent. Homicides fell from 84 to 72.

The CSO continues topublish the data “under reservation” classification following prolonged confidence issues with how An Garda Síochána has recorded crime in its own systems.

Pádraig Dalton, CSO director general, recently told The Irish Times that bringing the statistical information provided by the force to the required standard was likely to take a number of years.

Other categories of crime rose in the first quarter of the year including kidnapping (8.8 per cent) and attempts or threats to murder, assaults, harassments and related offences (6.6 per cent).

Noeline Blackwell, chief executive of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC), said there was increasing evidence that more people are coming forward to report sexual crime than before, a change thought to be at least partly linked to growing public awareness and recent abuse controversies.

“People are reporting who would not have felt confident in reporting it before,” she said, citing the recent experience of staff.

Ms Blackwell also believes work being undertaken in schools and in colleges around awareness, particularly in the area of consent, is having a positive effect. An increase in the number of specialised garda sexual crime units too are thought to be aiding people in reporting crime.

However, she said detailed, consistent data being made publicly available would be invaluable to help target service provision as well as responses in both health and criminal justice policy.

“If we are aware that a certain age group is reporting [FOR INSTANCE]and we are providing a service our training would probably need to be adjusted,” she said. “There is so little information out there about who is reporting and what follows on from that.”

Last April, for the first time, the CSO published a more comprehensive breakdown of such data, following demand from various organisations. Plans to continue this would address much of what Ms Blackwell and others are asking for.

Its Recorded Crime Victim 2018 data set - also published under reservation - found that a quarter of sexual violence crimes reported that year took place a decade or more previously. It also gave details of age and found that 90 per cent of victims were female.