Sexual offences least solved crime in Ireland last year – CSO

Sexual offences were the least solved crime in Ireland last year with just one in 10 detected by gardaí.

There was also more crime per capita recorded in Dublin than the rest of the country, but better crime-solving rates outside of the capital.

The figures for Garda detection rates were released by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for the first time in three years after concerns were previously raised over their accuracy.

The force has since made significant changes to how it records solved crimes, with greater governance and less discretion given to gardaí.

In 2018, almost 3,200 sexual offences were reported but by August last just 351, or 11pc, had been solved.

Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan a described the figure as “disappointing”, while saying that resources for specialist services to deal with vulnerable victims are increasing.

Previously, a detection was made when at least one suspect was identified, but the more rigorous system means a suspect must be either charged, summonsed or cautioned.

Detections for burglaries were also significantly lower than other crime categories, with 16pc of almost 17,000 reported break-ins detected.

In comparison, the rate for solving murders and other homicide offences is high, with three out of every four last year resulting in a suspect being charged. The detection for drugs offences is also high, with 81pc of the 18,346 crimes recorded as solved.

Concerns were raised about the quality and reliability of Garda statistics, including detection rates, and the organisation has since brought in greater governance on how they are recorded.

Previously, gardaí manually recorded a crime as being solved when they felt there was enough evidence to identify a suspect. In 2014, there was no corresponding charges or summons found in more than 23,000 cases where a suspect offender was recorded as having criminal proceedings brought against them.

The new system now automatically updates an incident as detected only once proceedings begin, taking away the discretion from gardaí.

Greater governance has also been placed around ‘exceptional detections’ in which a suspect has died before proceedings are brought.

In 2014, more than 5,400 crimes fell under this category, compared to just over 1,000 for offences reported last year.

Following appeals from NGOs, the relationship between an offender and the victim will now alsobe recorded.

Garda Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said he hoped the new system would increase confidence in gardaí.

“Clearly, we want to help you in whatever way we can and we are making changes to our practices, to our processes, to our policies, and to our training to give you the confidence in that regard,” he said.

The Policing Authority welcomed the publishing of the report and said it demonstrated a marked improvement in Garda practice.

“In 2014, 18pc of suspected offenders were claimed as ‘detected’, but no corresponding charge or summons record could be identified – in 2018, this practice has dropped to 1.4pc, which is positive,” a spokesperson for the body said.

Sam Scriven, a CSO statistician with the CSO, said that it was important for the public to understand thatthe new method of counting data was a “significant break-in-series” for measuring crime detection rates, and thatthe new data should not be compared with previous figures.

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