Thursday 29 September 2016

Justice Minister refuses to express confidence that crime figures being accurately recorded

Published 30/06/2015 | 19:16

Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald
Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has refused to say she has full trust that crime figures are being accurately recorded in the PULSE system.

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It has emerged almost one-in-five crimes reported to the gardai do not seem to be included in the PULSE computer network.

A report by the Central Statistics Office raises further questions as to how garda crime figures are officially recorded.

This review of the recording of crime statistics followed a Garda Inspectorate report published in November.

It suggested there was an under-recording of crime.

It also stated detection rates were lower than those actually recorded by the force.

About 18pc of crimes reported to An Garda Síochána in 2011 do not appear to have been included in the PULSE data, according to these latest figures.

Speaking this evening, Minister Fitzgerald said the gap will narrow in the next few years between the "reporting and recording" of crime figures.

She stressed the whole issue of proper recording of crime statistics is an international issue.

"Improvements are being made. Quite a number of initiatives have been taken by the Gardai to make sure that we have better recording.

"And now with the objective assessment being done by both the Garda Inspectorate, and the CSO, that's going to lead to a situation where the public can have much more confidence in crime statistics."

Asked if she has full trust that crime figures at present are being accurately logged on the PULSE system, she said: "Every effort is being made to ensure that what is reported is recorded.

"There's a number of new initiatives in terms of the quality of data and data control.

"There is more focus on this area.

"It's not going to happen overnight, but I am confident that there are a range of initiatives in place that should make a difference.

"There is a will there to ensure that the recording is done in a proper manner, and that it's up on the system."

Speaking to Independent.ie, she also stressed the lack of a proper ICT infrastructure within the gardai is a factor in the under-recording of crime.

But the Minister insisted the Government is committed to putting more resources into the system to rectify problems, and she will be making an announcement shorty in relation to improvements to the ICT infrastructure.

The CSO states one-in-six crimes created from paper records in 2011 did not appear to be captured on Pulse.

Other key findings include:

– one in 14 offences reported on Pulse in 2012 were created more than a week after they were first reported.

- about 3pc of the total crime figure has also been incorrectly classified under relevant headings

– these include assault, burglary, robbery and public order.

– a further 4pc of cases in these key  crime categories had insufficient information attached

– 7pc of domestic disputes which were classified to a non-crime category should have been classified as a crime.

However, despite  the CSO having “some issues” with the way data is currently recorded by the gardai it will continue to have an input into the reporting system.

“The CSO will work with An Garda Síochána to improve the reliability of the data, and will repeat this analysis at regular intervals, to monitor data quality,” it said.

A Garda Inspectorate report published towards the end of last year found gardaí were under-recording crime trends by about 38 per cent.

It also indicated recorded detection rates were higher than the actual number of crimes actually solved.

A data review team has been set up - and a pilot scheme got under way in three Garda divisions in February - to test various revamped recording methods.

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