Thursday 17 October 2019

Sexual offences up more than 10%, CSO figures show

The Central Statistics Office has published its annual crime figures.

The Central Statistics Office released crime figures (Joe Giddens/PA)
The Central Statistics Office released crime figures (Joe Giddens/PA)

By Cate McCurry, Press Association

There has been an increase of more than 10% in the number of sexual offences in Ireland in the last year, figures have shown.

The country’s justice minister said that the notable increase came during a time of significant public focus on sexual assault, particularly in the wake of the Me Too movement.

There was also a significant increase in fraud offences, which jumped by more than 18%.

According to the Central Statistics Office (CSO) crime figures, there was a decrease of 10.8% in the number of homicide offences during 2018.

The CSO figures also show some significant decreases in property-related crime over the full year when compared with 2017, with theft offences down 3% and burglary offences down 11.5% year on year.

This amounts to almost 4,400 fewer incidents of theft and burglary offences in 2018 when compared with 2017.

While there was an increase of 11.3% in robbery offences, this amounted to an increase of 246 incidents for the full year.

Speaking about the rise in the number of sexual offences, Minister for Justice Charlie Flanagan said: “In 2018, a year when there was a significant public focus on sexual assault, there was an increase in recorded incidents and I continue to encourage anyone who has been a victim of sexual assault to come forward and report the incident to An Garda Siochana.

It is important to state that there is significant legislative work ongoing in my department in relation to sexual offences Charlie Flanagan

“Work is ongoing in my department to reform aspects of the investigation and prosecution of sexual violence to ensure that complainants are protected to the greatest extent possible.

“It is important to state that there is significant legislative work ongoing in my department in relation to sexual offences, with a specific focus on the victims of these horrific crimes.

“The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) (Amendment) Act 2019 was enacted earlier this year. It provides for stricter sentencing for repeat sexual offenders.”

The figures published on Monday are categorised as “under reservation”, following concerns raised by the CSO last year about the accuracy and quality of information recorded on the gardai Pulse system.

Statistician Sam Scriven said: “The publication of the latest recorded crime statistics provides the best available measure of crime reported in Ireland while informing users of concerns regarding the quality of the underlying data.

“The statistics show increases in the reporting of fraud and sexual offences.

“The numbers of burglaries and theft incidents both fell, although there was a rise in the numbers of reported robberies.”

Mr Flanagan said that work is ongoing between the gardai and CSO to ensure crime statistics reflect the high standard required.

“Progress on this work is being monitored closely by the Policing Authority, and I welcome their continued vigilance in this regard,” he added.

The minister praised the work of the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau in tackling fraud and deception.

The number of recorded incidents jumped by 18.4%.

“This increased focus has led to almost 1,000 extra reports of fraud offences being recorded in 2018 when compared to 2017 and reflects this Government’s commitment to tackling fraud and corruption on every level,” he added.

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