Violent and sexual crimes on the rise
Increase in number of rapes, assaults, burglaries, say CSO
A startling increase in violent and sexual crimes has been revealed in the latest crime statistics - although there has been a drop in the number of murders.
And burglary is on the rise with an 8.4pc increase nationwide - while thefts from shops suffered from a 11.2pc spike.
As highlighted by the Irish Independent, incidents of rural crime, thefts and home invasions have been rocking rural Ireland for the past year.
Across the country, some 28,830 burglaries and related offences have occurred compared with 26,589 in the same period last year.
The figures released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show incidences of recorded crime during the 12 months up to the end of June.
The number of murders dropped by some 35.5pc on last year's figure, falling from 93 to 60.
However, threats to kill increased by 52.6pc from 357 to 537 year-on-year.
The number of assaults also saw a worrying 11.5pc increase to 10,748, while assaults causing harm and poisoning offences hit the 3,240 mark, up 5.2pc.
Among the rural burglary hotspots were Rathdrum and Newtownmountkennedy in Co Wicklow with 22 and 23 break-ins reported between January and June.
The small seaside village of Laytown, Co Meath, saw 57 recorded offences.
Fianna Fáil leader Micheál Martin said the Government was to blame for the spiralling rural crime rate.
"They closed down 139 garda stations and the inevitable has happened in terms of crime," he said.
"It is time to reopen these stations," he added.
Crime Victims Helpline Co-ordinator Michelle Puckhaber has said the service is seeing an increase in calls from outside the Dublin region.
"We are seeing more and more calls related to burglary across the country," she said.
"It is a worrying trend. Some calls are coming in where people are reporting that they were in their home when it was burgled.
"Even more worrying are those reporting that they have been assaulted.
"And some are calling to say they have been burgled while they have been away and have returned to find their home has been compromised. Either way it is very worrying."
The data also revealed further increases in a number of offences closely associated with organised crime.
Possession of a firearm rocketed by 21pc to 214.
However, despite more guns being recovered by gardaí, the statistics also revealed the number of those firing an illegal weapon dropped by 2pc.
Controlled drugs offences overall fell by 1.2pc to 14,488 crimes.
Cultivation of drugs saw a 19pc drop while the number of drugs seizures for personal use fell by 1pc.
However, the possession of drugs for sale or supply increased 1pc, to 3,448 cases.
There was also an increase in the number of sexual offences.
The overall category saw an increase of 3.3pc, which included an increase of 6.7pc in rapes and 6.5pc in sexual assaults.
In the capital alone, the number of sexual offences recorded between January and June of this year stood at 376 compared to 346 in the same period last year. Nationwide there were some 2,078 compared to 2,006 in 2014. Other sexual assaults were up 7pc.
Dublin Rape Crisis Centre CEO Ellen O'Malley-Dunlop said the statistics were a "cause for concern".
"These numbers are both shocking and worrying," she said.
"But we welcome the fact that there has been an increase in the number of people reporting these crimes.
"We are still waiting for a new EU directive to be transcribed into Irish law which will hopefully go some way to these people being convicted."
Ms O'Malley-Dunlop said the new laws will ensure that the DPP must give a reason upon deciding against pursuing a sexual assault case.
"It will also give victims more anonymity in the sense their details won't be kept on file, which might in turn see more people coming forward," she said.
Driving a vehicle under the influence of drink or drugs was down by 13pc and 4pc respectively.
Some 6,450 motorists were detected driving over the legal alcohol limit in the 12-month period while 232 were caught driving under the influence of drugs.
Car hijackings and related crimes increased by 28pc to 110 cases, while some 7,392 cars were stolen - just three fewer than the previous year.
Kidnapping and related offences decreased 4pc, to 131 offences.