'Grave concern' for Flanagan as reports of sex crime rise 10pc
Sex crimes have continued to rise in recent months with the number reported to gardaí increasing by 10pc.
Figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show sexual offences have increased sharply since the beginning of last year.
In the year to March 2019, a total of 3,231 rapes and sex assaults were reported to gardaí, an increase of 10.3pc from the previous year.
A similar increase was recorded up to the final quarter of last year.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the rise in such crimes "remains a grave concern" but he welcomed the fact more victims are coming forward to reports such offences.
Mr Flanagan added that Divisional Protective Service Units (DPSU), which deal primarily with sex offences and vulnerable victims, would be rolled out across every Garda division by the end of the year.
"These specialised Garda units are tasked with improving services to victims, improving the investigation of sexual and domestic violence incidents, and identifying and managing risk," Mr Flanagan said.
In the year to March 2019, the number of homicides decreased by 14pc, while burglaries continued to fall, with recent figures showing a 10.3pc reduction.
The offence group with the largest percentage increase was fraud, which saw reported crimes rise by 28.5pc to 6,841.
The Justice Minister attributed the rise in such offences to a "significant step-up in policing activity in relation" to fraud and deception.
"While any rise of that magnitude would give some cause for concern, I believe this increase demonstrates the work that is being carried out by the Garda National Economic Crime Bureau in tackling this particular form of criminality and reflects this Government's commitment to tackling fraud and corruption on every level," he said.
Mr Flanagan also described the 16.2pc increase in controlled-drugs offences as a "cause for concern" and said that the Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (DOCB) was continuing to lead the fight against drug trafficking and distribution in Ireland.
Most recently, in February 2019, a 9.5 tonnes of cocaine had been seized off the coast of Cape Verde following operational information shared as a result of this initiative, he said.
Offences against the Government, as well as justice procedures and organised crime-related incidents, have also increased by 9.4pc.