Sunday 4 December 2016

'We have more work to do' - Gardaí respond after CSO confirm almost one in every five crimes not recorded

Cathal McMahon

Published 28/09/2016 | 13:05

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Almost a fifth of all crime reported to gardaí is still not recorded on its own computer system, new analysis has revealed.

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The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has warned that the force's success rate in solving crimes is probably 10% lower than actually claimed.

Despite widely-publicised concerns being flagged several years ago on reported crime figures, the CSO has again cast doubt over official numbers.

The latest warning was issued after it emerged that that there were nearly seven sex offences reported every day in the 12 months leading up to the end of June

In a statement, released to Independent.ie, An Garda Síochána said: "We are currently examining the CSO report on Garda data. Data quality is an issue for all police services and we are determined to ensure we have the highest quality data.

"We have made some progress in this area, but we recognise we have more work to do."

The Central Statistics Office confirmed that gardaí recorded 2,442 sex offences – a rise of 13% in the 12 months from June 2015 to June 2016.

This was driven by increases in recorded other sexual offences (+84.7%); Defilement of a boy or girl less than 17 years old offences (+21.8%); Rape of a male or female offences (+11.8%), and Sexual assault (non-aggravated) offences (+6.1%).

Offences against government, justice procedures and organisation of crime - mainly offences carried out by persons in custody - rose by 11.6%.

Five of the 15 offence groups recorded an increase while the remaining 10 groups reported a fall in numbers.

In the 12-month period between June 2015 and June 2016, recorded Burglaries and related offences fell by 26.3% while Thefts and related offences fell by 12.3%.

There were 21,265 burglary offences recorded in the period – a drop of 7,581.

The CSO also published its second report on the quality of crime statistics.

Tim Linehan, of the CSO, said the scale of crime still not being recorded on the official Garda database Pulse had only fallen "very slightly" over the last year.

"Around 17% of crime reported to An Garda Siochana in 2015 was not recorded on Pulse," he said.

Last year, it was reported that 20% - or one in five - of all reported crimes never made it onto the system.

In a follow-up inquiry into last year's official records, the State agency again portrayed confusion and huge differences in how crimes were recorded in Garda stations across the country.

Some stations used technology and paper, some used only one or the other.

The CSO said where stations did not keep matching paper records it was "ultimately impossible to measure" how much crime was not being properly recorded.

Doubts were further cast on the classification of around 5% of major crimes.

Some 3% of crimes - including burglaries and thefts - were found to be recorded in the wrong category. Another 2% of records did not have enough information to tell whether or not they were correctly classified.

The CSO said 18% of crimes marked as detected - or solved - had no charge or summons sheet attached to prove it.

Removing these would reduce the Garda's overall claimed crime detection rate by 10%, it said.

"The CSO is continuing to work with An Garda Siochana to improve the reliability of the data and will continue this analysis at regular intervals to monitor data quality," Mr Linehan said.

Responding to the report a garda statement said: ""Many of the recommendations in the CSO report will be addressed by our Modernisation and Renewal Programme which will see investment in technology that will automate the recording of crime compared to the largely manual process at moment.

"In addition, our civilianisation programme will see more staff employed at the Garda Information Services Centre to deal with crime recording and also the appointment of a Data Quality Manager.

"We will continue to work actively with the CSO on this issue and will implement their recommendations."

Three years ago, former Garda chief Martin Callinan dismissed as "simply not true" allegations by the Garda Representative Association (GRA) that some crimes were not being recorded while official figures were easily massaged.

A year later,the CSO launched an investigation after the Garda Inspectorate exposed massive errors on the Pulse system, including poor classification of incidents and under-reporting, throwing doubt over the country's true crime rates.

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