Sunday 17 December 2017

Minister still can't be sure crime statistics are accurate

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald
Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

Shane Phelan and Mark O'Regan

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has refused to say she has full trust in Garda Commissioner, Noirin O'Sullivan, that crime figures are being accurately recorded in the PULSE system.

It comes after the Central Statistics Office (CSO) found that almost a fifth of crimes appear not to have been recorded on the garda computer system in a single year.

The CSO suspended its publication of crime statistics last year after a report by the Garda Inspectorate raised question marks over the accuracy of figures provided by the force.

In a report published yesterday, the CSO said it had found that around 18pc of crimes reported to gardaí in 2011 did not appear to be recorded on the PULSE computer system.

Some 3pc of crimes recorded on PULSE that year were incorrectly classified to the wrong crime category, while a further 4pc of cases had insufficient information to determine the correct classification.

It also found that 7pc of incidents classified as "attention and complaints", which is a non-crime category, should have been classified as a crime.

Ms Fitzgerald said last night that 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.

Asked if she has full trust in the Commissioner and garda authorities 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."

Speaking to the Irish Independent, Ms Fitzgerald stressed the lack of a proper ICT infrastructure within the gardaí is a factor in the under-recording of crime.

In a statement, Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan said many other police forces had experienced the same issues in relation to recording data accurately.

"However, that cannot be used as an excuse. It is important we have the correct processes and procedures in place, and they are adhered to by all members, so as to ensure crimes are properly recorded," she said.

New validated figures yesterday revealed an 8pc increase in assaults and burglaries in the 12 months up to March of this year.

According to the CSO report, there were big variations when it came to other categories, including attempted murder or threats to kill, robbery, burglary, theft, weapons and explosives crimes, and public order offences.

There were 17,062 incidents in the category of murder attempts or threats, assault, harassment and related offences recorded on the PULSE system in 2011. However, the CSO estimates the actual number of such offences was 23,500, a 38pc difference.

Some 2,931 robbery, extortion and hijacking offences were recorded, but the CSO estimate is 3,500, a variation of 19pc.

Burglary and related offences were numbered at 27,695 on PULSE for 2011. However, the CSO estimated the real figure was 32,800, an 18pc variation.

Irish Independent

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