The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, has noted yesterdays publication of Recorded Crime Statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) for Q4 2020. This latest statistical release by the CSO provides the annualised crime statistics for 2020.
Minister McEntee said: “The upheaval caused by COVID-19 delivered a significant interruption to crime patterns in 2020 and the finding that burglary, theft and robbery related offences are at their lowest volumes since the CSO began publishing crime statistics from 2003 is very welcome. I also welcome the recorded drop in reports of crimes against the person such as attempts/threats to murder, assault and harassment offences.However, it is important that we keep in mind that these figures reflect a period when the country spent significant periods in lockdown and there will be no relaxation in the collective effort of the Government and Gardaí to suppress crime as our communities emerge from these restrictions.”
Burglary and related offences saw an annualised Quarter 4 decrease of 34.7% compared to 2019. Likewise theft and related offences were down by 24.5% compared 2019 and Robbery and extortion offences decreased by 22.9% compared to 2019. The reductions in crimes against property groups were driven by significant drops in volumes during Q2 when the first lockdown took place.
Attempts/threats to murder, assault and harassment offences are down 13.2% compared to 2019. Crimes against the person offence types were highest during Q3, perhaps reflecting the opening up after the initial period of lockdown. While the number of murders reduced from 36 to 34, the number of cases of Dangerous Driving leading to Death increased from 25 to 35, which is an unwelcome reversal of a downward trend that has been evident over the past few years.
Recorded offences in relation to drugs increased in a number of categories. Controlled drug offences rose by 9.1% compared to 2019, with an increase both in possession for simple possession and drugs for sale or supply contributing the highest volume to the increase.
The Minister added:“While decreases can be seen in the overall reported levels of crimes against the person, I am very conscious of the particular risks which COVID-19 has presented for those at risk of domestic violence. Since the start of the pandemic, An Garda Síochána have prioritised domestic abuse incidents through Operation Faoiseamh and in doing so have proactively targeted perpetrators and provided enhanced support to victims of domestic abuse.
Preventing and addressing sexual crime remains a key priority for me as Minister for Justice and for Government. Delivering on the actions set out in the Justice Plan 2021 and in Supporting a Victim’s Journey will introduce important reforms into the criminal justice system to ensure victims are consistently supported and informed at every point along their journey from the moment they report a crime, through the investigation, trial and beyond. The nationwide rollout of the Divisional Protective Services Units (DPSU) within An Garda Síochána which is complete, is an important part of those reforms. The availability of DPSUs in every division means there are now specially trained officers available nationwide who are responsible for engagement with and interviewing vulnerable victims.”