Frances Fitzgerald: We can rely on garda crime figures, despite concerns of 10% discrepancy

Frances Fitzgerald: We can rely on garda crime figures, despite concerns of 10% discrepancy
Frances Fitzgerald and Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan

Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has insisted the public can continue to "rely" on official crime figures amid claims the rates are being massaged, writes Fiachra Ó Cionnaith,

Political Correspondent.

A new report by the Central Statistics Office has found that serious problems exist when it comes to collating crime figures in this country, with concerns true crime detection and prevention levels could be at least 10% lower than said.

According to the same report, one in five crimes never made it into official documents, 18% of 'solved' cases had no charge or summons sheet to prove the conclusion, 3% - including burglaries and thefts - were placed in the wrong category, and a further 2% did not have enough information to prove they have been addressed.

Responding to the situation during a cross-border police summit in Enniskillen, Co Fermanagh, Tánaiste and Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald admitted there are some difficulties in the system which will not be "solved overnight".

However, despite the problems, she insisted the public should still have confidence in credibility of the official rates.

"I really welcome the CSO statistics which have just been published, which show a decrease in many areas of criminal activity and of crime…One area which has increased which would give me great concern is of course the area of sexual violence.

"Those reports have also been accompanied by a qualitative analysis from the CSO, I discussed the need to make sure that our figures are robust with the CSO and I'm satisfied that there are procedures in place to ensure ever more so that the figures are robust that are provided by An Garda Siochana.

"And the garda commissioner is working on that with the CSO and I have met with the CSO, that's an ongoing programme and that will continue.

"It's not going to change overnight, but there is a process in place to ensure that the public can rely on the figures.

"Taking into account what the CSO has had to say, what we still have are very robust figures that show we are getting reductions in most levels of criminal activity and that the public will welcome that because it means they're safer," she said.

Asked if victims of crime should be concerned about claims some figures may have been massaged, she added:

"Well there's re-classification in relation to certain issues. This is a complex area, what the definition of various crime, how that is classified in statistics is a complex area that is receiving attention.

"But as I say the important point is that crime is down and we have the figures that are ever more reliable.

"This is an international issue, trying to ensure the statistics which we get from our police services are robust to reflect the reality is well recorded."

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