CSO finds 'considerable underreporting' of sexual violence offences with domestic abuse motive

CSO finds 'considerable underreporting' of sexual violence offences with domestic abuse motive

Only 5% of reported sexual violence offences motivated by domestic abuse are being properly recorded, a new analysis by the Central Statistics Office indicates.

The study further indicates that less than half all assaults – physical and sexual – were appropriately recorded in the Garda Pulse computer database as having a domestic violence motive.

The CSO also found that 17% of crimes with evidence of a discriminatory motive – including race – were not properly recorded.

The findings are contained in the CSO Review of the Quality of Recorded Crime Statistics for 2017.

It found “improvement” in the non-recording of reported crime – dropping from a rate of 18% in 2011 to 12% in 2015 and to 7% in 2017.

It also found a fall in the misclassification of crime in a non-crime category – falling from 8% in 2011, to 3% in 2015 and to 2% in 2017.

In its first examination of the quality of statistics relating to crimes with a discriminatory motive and domestic abuse, the report found considerable underreporting.

In PULSE, the suspected motivations of crime incidents should be recorded in the modus operandi (MO) data field. The CSO said a new Garda policy on Domestic Abuse Intervention was introduced in 2017.

The policy defines domestic abuse as “the physical, sexual, financial, emotional or psychological abuse of one person against another who is a family member or is or has been an intimate partner, regardless of the gender or sexuality” and that all such incidents should be recorded appropriately on PULSE.

The CSO review took a sample of 100 crime incidents of physical assaults and a sample of 100 sexual offences (rape and sexual assault) reported in 2017.

“Of the 200 incidents 41 had a domestic or family relationship between the victim and alleged perpetrator,” it said. The review said this information was contained in descriptive fields in the crime report.

This analysis showed:

* Of the 200 samples examined, 41 indicated domestic abuse but just 19 had domestic violence recorded in the MO field (46% of incidents);

* Of the 100 rape and sexual assault crimes, 19 indicated domestic abuse, but the MO was appropriately recorded in just one (5% of cases);

* Of the 100 physical assault crimes, 22 indicated domestic abuse and 18 were flagged as such in MO (82% of cases)

“ Analysis indicates that statistics on domestic abuse for 2017 based on the MO data field alone would considerably understate the number of recorded crimes which fall within the 2017 domestic abuse definition,” said the CSO. “This was particularly evident in the case of sexual offences.”

The report also looked at 145 crimes identified in a search where discrimination was involved, but only 106 were marked in the MO – a rate of 73%. It said the level of understatement was “likely to exceed” the 27% identified.

The gap was greatest (72%) where race, religion and ethnicity were a factor and smaller for gender or sexual orientation (87%).

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