Questions raised about Garda reporting of racist crime compared to the PSNI

In one year 1,038 incidents reported in the North but just 128 in the South

Renewed calls have been made for an independent reporting system to record racism in the State after a comparative study showed 700 per cent more incidents reported in Northern Ireland.

The Immigrant Council of Ireland said the disparity raised very serious questions about the way incidents were recorded by gardaí and the Department of Justice, and suggested a lot of racism was going unreported.

The council compared figures for 2009 between the North and the South which showed 1,038 incidents recorded by the PSNI and just 128 by gardaí.

Chief executive of the council Denise Charlton said it was clear there was a huge gap in the level of reports. "The history of sectarian incidents in Northern Ireland does not account for this disparity as such crimes are recorded separately."

Ms Charlton said the figures supported their research that "racism in Ireland is going unreported, with victims reluctant to come forward because of fears they will be regarded as troublemakers, that their complaint will not be taken seriously or because of previous experience with corrupt police forces in their country of birth".

She said the council’s own reporting system stopracism, recorded an 85 per cent increase in cases in the past 12 months.

“In light of these latest findings we are repeating our call for the introduction of an independent reporting system where victims can come forward with confidence and be assured they will be offered support and advice.

"As a country we cannot continue to ignore the abuse, threats and even violence being carried out against people in our local communities," Ms Charlton said.

The council compared Garda and PSNI figures from 2005/2006 to the third quarter of 2013. The PSNI records figures from July to July while Garda figures are collated in a calendar year. The PSNI annual reports run to almost 70 pages compared to just one for Garda figures on its website.

A Garda spokesman said they do not comment on third-party reports but he added that figures are recorded by the Central Statistics Office and through the Garda Racial, Intercultural and Diversity Office.

The Immigrant Council noted the PSNI has a specific, detailed form entitled “Report Hate Crime” to record racist incidents in a 24-hour online reporting system.

The council also expressed concern that in incidents such as an individual being robbed of their wallet and suffering racist abuse, the only crime recorded by gardaí is a mugging.