Sharp rise in hate crime and domestic abuse figures a 'desirable correction', says Garda report

Organisations working in the areas of hate crime and domestic violence have welcomed Garda figures which show a sharp rise in such crimes being recorded.

European Network Against Racism (ENAR) Ireland and Women’s Aid said the increase is just the start in correcting the level of underreporting in the areas. They hope to see further increases as Garda efforts continue to improve.

The Garda figures show a rise in sexual crimes, but the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre (DRCC) said it is difficult to analyse what the increase “actually means” — it could reflect improved recording, more sexual assaults, or both.

The Garda annual report 2017, details of which were revealed in yesterday’s Irish Examiner, show significant increases in a range of crimes, including:

  • A 16% rise in recorded domestic violence incidents, from 7,860 in 2016 to 9,145 in 2017, representing a 57% increase on 2013 (5,864);
  • An 11% increase in recorded hate crimes, from 290 to 323, and a 188% jump on 2013 (112);
  • A 20% rise in recorded sexual crimes, from 2,548 to 3,066, and a 52% hike on 2013 (2,015).

The Garda report says the increases are a “desirable correction” given potential underreporting in the past and that the rises are in line with Garda targets.

Dr Lucy Michael of Ulster University, who works with ENAR Ireland, welcomed the figures on hate crime, but said it is a “very small corrective on the very low rate of reporting” over the last decade.

“These new figures are a good start, but there is a long way to go,” said Dr Michael.

“We need structural reform of An Garda Síochána to embed specialist expertise on hate crime across the force with appropriate resourcing.”

She said the figure on hate crime represents 11 types of hate crimes and that there is no breakdown for racist hate crimes.

Dr Michael said “insufficient resources or training” was provided to the Garda Racial, Intercultural, and Diversity Office.

She said the Garda figures on hate crime do not show how many were detected.

Margaret Martin of Women’s Aid said the rise in domestic violence figures is “not unexpected”. 

She said Garda Inspectorate reports had indicated underreporting and that the new data reflected “better performance” by gardaí in recording.

She said she expects the rise to continue as new measures, such as the regional Protective Service Units, create a “more effective” process.

Ms Martin said that even with improved recording, the figures do “not reflect the level of prevalence”.

A spokeswoman for DRCC said it is “hard to analyse what the rise in numbers actually means” — it could reflect a higher level of reporting, an increase in assaults, or both.

She said it again reflects the pressing need to update the last prevalence study (SAVI), conducted in 2002.

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