Homicides down 38% but murder threats up


The number of homicides recorded in Ireland last year dropped by 38 per cent, but instances of attempted murder and threats to murder increased considerably, new figures released today by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show.

The figures also show a decline in the instances of fraud and kidnappings committed last year. However, they illustrate an increase in most other areas of criminal activity in 2008.

The number of controlled drug offences increased by more than one quarter last year. There was a 15 per cent jump in the number of weapons offences, while instances of arson grew by more than 11 per cent.

The figures also confirm annual increases in the number of recorded robberies, extortions and highjackings, a growth in instances of theft and cases of disorderly conduct, while the number of threats to murder grew by one third and the number of people caught driving under the influence of drugs doubled.

In all last year there were 52 recorded homicides in Ireland, compared with 84 in 2007. There was also a 50 per cent decrease in the number deaths by dangerous driving in 2008, 24 compared to 48 in 2007.

Recorded offences of attempted murder increased from 5 in 2007 to 9 in 2008, while threats to murder increased from 160 to 213, an annual increase of 33 per cent.

The CSO found that in 2008 there were 2,956 offensive weapons offences, a rise of almost 15 per cent on 2007.

The number of people found driving/in charge of a vehicle under the influence of drugs more than doubled, a 128 per cent increase, from 258 to 588 in 2007 and 2008 respectively. Controlled drug offences increased by 25.4 per cent from 18,583 in 2007 to 23,306 in 2008.

There were 2,307 recorded robbery, extortion and hijacking offences last year, six per cent more than in 2007, while the number of burglary and related offences increased by 1,058, with an increase of 72 in the number of recorded aggravated burglaries.

The number of thefts, taking of vehicles and related offences increased from 13,534 in 2007 to 14,241 in 2008, while there were 2,228 recorded cases of arson, an increase of 11 per cent. The annual amount of kidnappings and related offences fell from 106 recorded offences in 2007, to 75 in 2008 and cases of fraud, deception and related offences fell by 8 per cent from 5,851 in 2007 to 5,378 in 2008.

In a statement, the Minister for Justice Dermot Ahern welcomed the reduction in homicide offences, but said a further tightening of legislative provisions relating to guns and knives is required.

"Last November I outlined proposals for a handgun ban, which is already de facto in force, and yesterday I announced proposals to tackle knife crime. Both sets of proposals will be included in the forthcoming Criminal Justice (Miscellaneous Provisions) Bill, which the Government have agreed to treat as a priority measure for this Dáil session," he said.

Mr Ahern said there is no room for complacency and that the gardaí must remain aware that the nature of criminal activity is constantly developing and adjust their strategies accordingly.

Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy said the force will continue to give priority to tackling drug crime. "By targeting drug crime, we can have an impact across all crime categories from serious violent crime through to thefts, robberies and public order," he said.

Mr Murphy said he understood how the upward trend in burglary would concern the community, but added that gardaí are using an analysis service and other resources to inform and design operations to address the issue.

"A strong focus on crime prevention and reduction as well as the rollout of the renewed model of community policing will also help to build partnerships between An Garda Síochána and communities so that we can work together to find local solutions to local problems," he said.