Uncounted crime: 45% of assaults not reported to Garda


TO GET a fuller picture of crime in Ireland today it is necessary to look not only at recorded crime data, but also to examine the under-reporting of crimes, the reasons why people do not report crime, and to gauge people’s perception of their personal security.

To this end the most recent Crime and Victimisation Survey, carried out by the Central Statistics Office in 2010, surveyed 11,391 people from across the State about their experience and perception of crime. It asked more than 90 questions about burglary, vandalism, theft and physical assault.

Nine per cent of respondents had experienced crime in the year prior to the survey, marking a decrease in the rates of crime experienced by those questioned in previous surveys of 2006 and 2003.

The findings indicated that, just as the overall crime rate experienced by those surveyed had decreased, so too had people’s fears of becoming victims of crime. Forty per cent of participants said they worried about being a victim of crime in 2010, down from 53 per cent in 2006 and 58 per cent in 2003.

Just under three-quarters of those surveyed said they either felt safe or very safe walking home alone in their neighbourhood after dark, while 92 per cent said they would feel safe or very safe alone in their homes after dark. More than two-thirds of respondents rated the gardaí in their local area as good or very good.

Despite such positive indicators, 83 per cent of respondents nonetheless felt that crime was either a serious or very serious problem in Ireland. And 55 per cent said they were either “not very confident” or “not at all confident” in the criminal justice system.

The survey also asked participants whether they had reported crime experienced to gardaí and, where the answer was no, it asked for the respondents’ reasons for not having done so.

In 2010, 45 per cent of assaults were not reported to the Garda. The most commonly cited reason (31 per cent) for not reporting was that the incident was not sufficiently serious or that no loss was incurred. A further 12 per cent said they did not believe gardaí could do anything, and 11 per cent feared reprisal.

Similarly, 37 per cent of thefts (defined as stealing or trying to steal something from the person) without violence and 36 per cent of thefts with violence were not reported to gardaí.

The survey indicated that a quarter of those who experienced a burglary (defined as breaking and entering by a person into a premises), during the year before the survey did not report the matter to gardaí.

When asked why they did not report the crime, the largest cohort of participants, 36 per cent, said it was because the incident was not serious enough or did not result in loss. A further 16 per cent and 19 per cent of respondents respectively said they believed that gardaí could do nothing or would do nothing were they to report it, while 9 per cent said they did not wish to involve gardaí.