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Reports of sex offences and crimes against the person continue to rise

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Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Picture: Kyran O'Brien

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Picture: Kyran O'Brien

Garda Commissioner Drew Harris. Picture: Kyran O'Brien

Sexual offences and crimes against the person are continuing to rise, according to an assessment of trends presented by Garda Commissioner Drew Harris to the Policing Authority.

The examination of recorded figures for sexual offences showed that the number had been on the rise since early 2015 and was up by 3pc in the past year, compared with the total for 2018.

The commissioner's report stated that this increase is not unique to Ireland and may be partly attributable to a change in reporting behaviour with victims more likely to report sexual crime.

Mr Harris noted that since crimes against the person are also on an upward trend, it cannot be ruled out there has been a rise in the number of sex attacks taking place.

Statistics for crimes against the person showed an increase of 5pc in the past year, primarily driven by a rise in assaults.

The assessment showed that property crime and burglary plateaued in 2019, having decreased over the previous four years.

Property crime, nationally, trended downwards since the end of 2015, but the figures were up by 1.3pc in 2019.

The report from Mr Harris also confirmed that burglary has gone down, particularly since the launch of Operation Thor in November 2015.

Burglaries increased in October and November, but were down again in December. Residential burglaries usually increase in the darker winter months, but are lower in the days around Christmas.

Overall in 2019, residential burglaries were up by 3pc - but other burglaries were down by 11pc, compared with the previous year.

Incidents of criminal damage are down over the past five years, but were up by 2pc in 2019. Public order offences were up 4pc in the year, driven by a 6pc increase in offences involving drunkenness.

Outlining the Garda organisation's financial position to the authority, Mr Harris said the total overtime spend was €106.9m, compared to a revised budget of €107.3m, which included an additional provision from the Department of Justice to cover the visits of US President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence.

As a result of the supplementary estimate, Mr Harris says it was possible to reverse the planned savings targeted for information technology.

An underspend in the capital building programme allowed €2.7m to be invested in the Garda fleet on the purchase of some 450 vehicles.

According to the report, garda strength at the end of December was estimated at 14,307.

Irish Independent