People on bail commit 11% of all crimes

People on bail commit 11% of all crimes

More than one in nine of all crimes recorded last year — including one in seven of all murder and manslaughter cases — are believed to have been committed by individuals on bail.

Figures obtained from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) show that individuals released from custody while awaiting prosecution for a separate offence are believed responsible for 10 out of 74 homicides in 2018.

Overall, the CSO figures — which are based on crimes recorded on the Garda Pulse system — show that people out on bail were linked to 24,270 offences committed last year — 11.3% of the total.

They include 11 sexual offences as well as 6,871 cases of theft, 1,085 burglaries and 274 robberies.

Suspected criminals already linked to other offences are recorded as being responsible for 5,233 public order offences last year, including 1,894 drug offences and 715 incidents of assaults and threats.

While overall crime levels fell continuously between 2011 and 2016 before increasing in 2017, the proportion of offences committed by those on bail had grown steadily over the same period — rising from 9% of all crimes in 2011 to 13.3% in 2017.

The latest figures show the first fall in the share of all crimes by suspects already on bail in almost a decade.

However, a CSO spokesperson said changes to the Pulse system implemented last year in relation to how offenders are recorded and crimes marked “detected” mean the latest figures are believed to be more accurate than but not directly comparable to previous years.

The latest figures reveal that individuals on bail are believed responsible for a high proportion of particular crimes — one in five of all firearms and explosives offences and one in six of all public order offences.

They are also linked to more than one in 10 of all drug offences, robberies, and theft.

In contrast, suspects already on bail are believed responsible for only 0.3% of sexual offences recorded last year as well as 6.4% of burglaries.

The CSO said all official crime figures were still published “under reservation” as there remained ongoing concerns about the quality of the data from the Pulse system.

A spokesman for Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said they were awaiting “robust statistics” in order to analyse the full impact of changes to bail laws introduced in 2017.

However, Fianna Fáil justice spokesman Jim O’Callaghan said the latest figures showed that a significant amount of serious crime continued to be committed by people on bail.

“Unfortunately, the current bail laws are not strong enough and need to be reformed,” Mr O’Callaghan said.

He said legislation put forward by Fianna Fáil last year to further strengthen bail laws was voted down by the Government and some other Opposition parties.

“Unless there is political recognition of this problem we will continue to see a significant percentage of crime committed by people out on bail,” said Mr O’Callaghan.

The Government needs to act now to deal with this continuing and clear problem.

Under the Criminal Justice Act 2017, a court is required to have regard for persistent serious offending by an applicant for bail and may take into account the nature and likelihood of any danger presented by the granting of bail to a person charged with an offence that carries a jail sentence of 10 years or more.

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