Recorded sexual offences increase for fifth consecutive year

Recorded sexual offences have increased for a fifth year in a row, according to the latest crime statistics.

Figures published by the Central Statistics Office show a 10% rise in the last 12 months and a 55% jump in the last five years.

The increases are part of a general rise in many violent crimes, including attempted murder, assault, kidnapping, robbery from the person and aggravated burglary.

Bucking this trend has been a significant reduction in homicide offences, both last year (down 14%) and in the last five years (down 20%).

Reflecting a wider boom in the drugs trade, there's a 16% rise in drug offences, including a 14% rise in supply offences and a 17% increase in possession offences.

The figures, covering the 12 months to March 2019, are published by the CSO under “reservation”, meaning the agency has concerns regarding the quality of the data.

The 10% rise in sexual offences to March includes: an 18% jump in rape (2,938 to 3,231); a 12% increase in defilement of a child under 17 (677 to 800); a 37.5% rise in aggravated sexual assault (8 to 11) and a 4% rise in sexual assault (1,707 to 1,769).

The last five years have seen a steady rise in recorded sexual offences, from 2,086 in Q1 2015, to 2,321 (2016) and to 2,635 (2017).

Noeline Blackwell, CEO of Dublin Rape Crisis Centre, said it was not clear if the rise reflected more crimes or greater reporting.

She said: “We continue to wonder whether this is due to an increase in the level of such crime – which is a real worry - or an increase in reporting because people feel more ready to do so – which would be encouraging.”

She said the lack of basic data in the absence of an update on the 2002 SAVI report meant that people could only speculate. She said there seemed to be “a greater recognition by victims that they can and should report”.

    Figures for other violent crimes show:

  • Attempted murders up 83% (12 to 22) and threats of murder up 36% (833 to 1,136);
  • A 7% rise in the general category of assault, which included a 10% increase in assault causing harm and a 6% rise in harassment;
  • A 9% rise in kidnappings (125 to 136), including a 14% increase in false imprisonment (77 to 88);
  • A 5% increase in robberies, including a 13% rise in robberies from the person (1,322 to 1,505), a 73% jump in cash in transit robberies (15 to 26) and a 56% increase in carjackings (85 to 133);
  • A 20% increase in aggravated burglaries (231 to 276), but the total number of burglaries was down 10% (18,683 to 16,766);
  • A 5% rise in weapons offences, including a 6% rise in shootings (90 to 95);
  • 9% increase in disorderly conduct (25,389 to 27,617), part of a 5% increase in public order offences.

Dangerous driving causing serious bodily harm jumped 154% (13 to 33) and driving under the influence of drugs rose 138% (291 to 694). Fraud offences jumped by 28% (5,322 to 6,841). Theft offences were down 3% (69,298 to 67,463).

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