Wednesday 21 March 2018

Homicide figures wrong as gardaí fail to properly record 89 deaths

Garda chief Nóirín O’Sullivan
Garda chief Nóirín O’Sullivan
Cormac McQuinn

Cormac McQuinn

Official statistics for the number of homicides in Ireland should include around 89 additional deaths that weren't properly recorded by gardaí, the Policing Authority has been told.

An internal Garda review of homicide figures showed errors in the recording of 6pc of cases between 2003 and the end of May 2017 - a revelation that one authority member described as "alarming".

The number doesn't include separate concerns about the classification of 41 homicides between 2013 and 2015.

The Central Statistics Office has suspended the publication of crime statistics pending the completion of a Garda review of the numbers.

Garda management, including Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan, were grilled about the issue at a public meeting of the authority.

Dr Gurchand Singh, the Garda analyst, said that homicide offences don't just cover murders and manslaughters, but also include dangerous driving causing death.

He said 63 homicide cases involving dangerous driving were flagged on the system in error as a more minor road incident for statistical purposes.

Twenty-six homicides took place in incidents where there were multiple deaths, but just one was counted. Mr Singh said the bulk of the errors took place towards the earlier part of the 2003 to May 2017 time period.

The database has been "rectified" and it's to be sent to the CSO shortly, he said, though he noted they will conduct their own independent review.

He said there was "no attempt to hide a homicide" and education and supervision on recording such incidents will prevent the issue happening again. Authority member Dr Vicky Conway said the numbers were "alarming" and asked for assurance there were no consequences for investigations.

Mr Singh said his analysis of the data is that there was no attempt to downplay or reclassify homicides. "They are recorded as homicides so the expectation is that they would be investigated as such," he added.

Ms O'Sullivan said she is conscious that victims' families will want assurances. She said Deputy Commissioner John Twomey is conducting a review with the aim of providing those assurances by September.

Irish Independent

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