The number of people reporting sexual assaults and rape is on the rise in Cork city, according to new figures.
The statistics were presented by Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin at yesterday’s meeting of the Cork City Joint Policing Committee, writes Kelly O'Brien of the Evening Echo.
The city's top cop presented data which shows that between December and February there were reports of 27 sexual assaults and 10 reports of rape.
This was then compared to substantially lower figures of the same three month period for the previous year – between December 2015 and February 2016 there were 15 reports of sexual assaults and five reports of rape.
While Chief Supt McPolin said the figures are “of concern” to the Gardaí, he said that some of the reports are historical instances that have only just been reported.
He said that over the last few months, Gardaí have ramped up efforts to get people to report such crimes, even if they are in the past.
“We are encouraging people to report incidents. We have also established, over the past six or seven months here in Cork, a special Protective Services Unit which is running in tandem with a national initiative to tackle crimes like sexual assault,” he said.
“You can see we’ve obviously been very successful at encouraging people to come forward to report crimes, and a lot of the crimes being reported are historic in nature which has no doubt added to the increase in the figures.”
The new Protective Services Unit is part of a pilot project currently operating in three areas of the country.
In Cork, the unit, which is made up of specially trained personnel, will deal with every case of sexual, child, or domestic abuse reported to gardaí in the Cork city division.
Similar units are being set up in Dublin and Louth and, if successful, the programme will be rollout out to other areas.
Speaking at yesterday’s meeting, Chief Supt McPolin also highlighted the fact that minor assaults have also increased.
Between December and February, there were 195 reports of minor assaults in the city. During the same period of the previous year – December 2015 to February 2016 – there were 145. This represents an increase of 34%.
Chief Supt McPolin said the increase could be attributed largely to the resurgence in the economy – more people went on nights out over the most recent Christmas and New Year period compared to the previous one, mainly because a lot of people now have more money in their pockets than they would have had during the recession.
Overall, crimes against the person in Cork city are up by 34%. This includes the rise in sexual assault, rape, and minor assault, but also a rise in child abandonment, and menacing phone calls.
Murder threats, assault causing harm, and harassment all declined.
This article first appeared in today's Evening Echo.