Friday 20 April 2018

Reported rapes up 28pc

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Stock picture

Robin Schiller and Tom Brady

The number of rapes reported in Ireland increased by more than 28pc last year with almost two every day.

In 2017, there were 655 rapes of a male or female recorded by gardaí, compared with 511 the previous year.

It was one of the highest increases for a crime category over a 12-month period, while sexual offences increased by 16.2pc in total, with 2,945 recorded last year.

There was a sharp increase in serious criminal offences across the board between 2016 and 2017, with attempted murders and assaults (13pc), weapons offences (11pc) and burglaries (13pc) all on the rise.

The figures, described as "under reservation", were compiled by the Central Statistics Office, who published crime stats for the first time since last June after concerns were raised about the way in which gardaí had recorded homicide offences.

The review, which looked at homicide figures back to 2003, found that 234 such offences had been wrongly classified.

In almost 200 incidents, fatal road traffic incidents were misclassified and should have been recorded as cases of dangerous driving causing death, while three deaths were categorised as murders when they were not.

Other errors may have taken place when investigations were upgraded from serious assault to murder and this was not recorded officially.

Cliona Saidlear, executive director of the Rape Crisis Network Ireland, described the sharp rise in sexual offences as "shocking" and said that funding should be made available to ensure accurate data recording.

"We owe all victims of crime dignity, respect and truth. The current situation on sexual violence statistics in Ireland means that we have all too little statistical insights into sexual violence," she said.

"We must not continue to shape our responses and prevention strategies in the absence of such basic knowledge."

It has also emerged that senior Garda officers have ordered a deeper probe into a number of homicide cases that may have been wrongly classified.

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey announced yesterday that this number was whittled down to 41 and that an investigation into their classification was carried out.

A "deeper dive" into some of those cases was now under way and the period under review extended out to 2003.

The inquiries focus on classifications only as all of the crimes were found to have been investigated thoroughly.

Mr Twomey said: "We will work through this painstakingly and will do whatever is necessary to ensure we are satisfied that all were carried out properly."

Association of Garda Sergeants and Inspectors (AGSI) president Antoinette Cunningham said that mid-ranking gardaí were not directly involved in the role of inputting data and that reviews should be carried out by senior officers to ensure clarity in recording offences.

"Our function in this matter is to report the incident as we find it to the support service in Mayo who analyse and input the data on our behalf so we do not have a direct role," Ms Cunningham said, speaking at the 40th AGSI delegate conference in Tullow, Co Carlow.

Irish Independent

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