Minister concerned by 13% rise in sex offences

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she was concerned

Sex offences rose by 13% in the year to the end of June, according to latest figures from the CSO which showed falls in a number of other crime categories.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said she was concerned by the rise in sex crime outlined and in the 4% increase in assault and related offences in the same period.

Ms Fitzgerald praised Garda efforts at cutting crime in other areas, citing figures which showed that the number of burglaries fell 26.3% in the 12 months to the end of June, with robbery down 11.1% and theft down 12.3% in the same period.

The figures were contained in the recorded crime statistics for the second quarter of the year, which also showed that there were 33 recorded murder and manslaughter offences in the year to the end of June, a decrease of six on the figure recorded for the 12-month period to June 2015.

The figures show that recorded dangerous or negligent acts offences increased by 188 to 7,342 — up 2.6% — while kidnapping and related offences rose by 2.9%. There were also significant falls in the rate of recorded weapons and explosives offences and in fraud, deception, and related offences, with almost no year-on-year change in the rate of controlled drug offences.

Theft and related offences are still the most prevalent crimes around the country, with 69,254 recorded instances in the year to the end of June, but Ms Fitzgerald said Garda efforts had impacted on those conducting those offences, particularly through Operation Thor.

On the rise in sexual offences detailed in the figures, Ms Fitzgerald said: “It is clear that we as a society cannot tolerate such crimes. More needs to be done and I am determined to meet this challenge head on.”

She said the passing of the Criminal Law Sexual Offences Bill is a priority in this Dáil session and that the national strategy on domestic, sexual, and gender-based violence 2016-21, launched earlier this year, would also help challenge “unacceptable behaviour and tackle sexual crimes as well as domestic violence”.

Dublin Rape Crisis Centre chief executive Noeline Blackwell said there is a need for proper baseline data, ideally in the form of a new SAVI report — a 2002 study on sexual abuse and violence in Ireland, and which was sponsored by the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre.

Ms Blackwell said current statistics do not indicate whether there was an increase in the rate of sexual offending or an increase in reporting.

“If we do not do that, we cannot be sure that all the policy initiatives we are putting in place are working,” she said.

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