10% fall in files being submitted to the DPP

There has been a 10% decline in the number of prosecution files submitted by gardaí to the DPP — but the office is dealing with an increasing number of "very lengthy" and "extremely resource intensive" white- collar prosecutions.

The 2013 annual report of the DPP also shows a jump in the number of rape and attempted rape cases before the Central Criminal Court last year — 91, compared to 2012 and 2011 — both 74.

The number of rape cases increased from 71 to 84, while attempted rape cases rose from three to seven.

There was a slight reduction in sexual offence cases before the Circuit Criminal Court in 2013 at 176, compared to 185 cases in 2012 and 184 in 2011.

In her foreword, DPP Claire Loftus highlighted “reduced staff” levels in her office and flagged further demands with the establishment of the new Court of Criminal Appeal in October and new rights for victims — regarding reasons for no prosecutions — in November 2015.

There were 13,763 prosecution files received in 2013, compared to 15,289 in 2010 — a decline of 10%.

Ms Loftus said there had been a 6% rise in the first half of this year — the first rise since 2011, when the office recorded the highest number of files (16,127).

“It remains to be seen whether this trend will be maintained for the rest of the year,” the DPP said.

She said there were a number of lengthy trials in 2013, some of them fraud and white-collar crime, which were “very costly” in terms of counsel fees and staff resources.

The report said that of the 10,956 files disposed of in 2013, a direction not to prosecute was given in 40% of cases.

In 58% of cases, a direction to prosecute was given: on indictment (in the higher courts) in 27% of cases and on summary basis (district court) in 31%.

Where no prosecution was directed, in 80% of cases it was due to insufficient evidence, up from 78% in 2011 and 75% in 2010.

Of prosecutions on indictment, 51% resulted in a conviction, 3% in acquittal, while 44% were still before the courts. The vast majority of convictions (96%) were the result of a guilty plea.

Of the cases finalised:

-96% of cases finished in the Circuit Criminal Court ended in a conviction, including 83% of manslaughter cases, 96% of sex crimes, and 97% of property crimes.

-92% of cases finalised in the Central Criminal Court resulted in a conviction, including all murders and 88% of rape cases.

-83% of cases finished in the Special Criminal Court ended in a conviction, including 90% of membership of an unlawful organisation offences and 67% of firearms cases.

The report said it lodged 32 applications to the Court of Criminal Appeal for a review of sentences on grounds of undue leniency. Of 26 cases dealt with by year-end, 16 had been successful.

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