Recorded violent crimes have soared in the last four years, with a surge in murder threats, serious assaults, and rapes.
The rise in offences against the person has sparked concern from the Policing Authority, and prompted the imminent introduction of a national assault strategy by An Garda Síochána.
The figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO) continue to be published “under reservation”, reflecting concerns the agency has about the quality of the underlying Garda data.
Along with figures published yesterday, covering the last two years, the CSO has also compiled data over a longer period.
An analysis of the statistics for the four years covering the year ending Q2 2016 to the year ending Q2 2019 shows:
- Rapes are up over 50% (544 to 820);
- Serious assaults have risen 44% (3,624 to 5,230);
- Murder threats have doubled (572 to 1,147);
- Aggravated burglaries are up 15% (227 to 262);
- Robberies from the person are up 7% (1,341 to 1,435).
The figures also show a 15% rise in offences of carrying offensive weapons, such as knives or blunt instruments, up from almost 1,800 to more than 2,000.
The increases in serious assaults and threats of murder are included in an overall increase in the category of assaults, while the sharp increase in rapes is also part of an overall rise in sexual offences.
Rape crisis centres say it is not possible to determine from the figures whether the rise in sexual offences is due to an increase in incidents or greater reporting.
The increase in violent crimes was raised at the Policing Authority meeting with Garda Commissioner Drew Harris on Thursday, with authority member Paul Mageean raising concerns at the increase in offences against the person.
Authority member Moling Ryan described the increases in assaults, particularly in Dublin, in recent years as “disturbing”.
Mr Harris said that assault figures here were not that different to trends across Europe and said there “seemed to be a connection between prosperity and street assaults”, linked to greater consumption of alcohol and illegal drugs and the night-time economy.
The CSO figures do show a 13% increase in disorder conduct offences (a public order crime) in the last four years.
Deputy Commissioner John Twomey said the Garda national strategy on assaults would be launched “within the next month”.
In relation to a doubling in incidents of threats of murder, Garda sources told the Irish Examiner that they attribute this both to more offences and to greater reporting of them.
They cite gang feuds, intimidation over drug debts, and domestic violence as factors in the rise in murder threats.
The CSO figures also show a significant rise in the number of attempted murders, up 28% over the four years, from six to 11. There was a drop in shootings and possession of firearms since 2016.
The CSO statistics for the last two years show a continuation in the trend of assaults and sex offences.
However, they show an increase again in shootings and a significant reduction in homicide offences, with the biggest decrease in deaths resulting from dangerous driving (down 64%).
The CSO cautioned that this figure is “often revised upwards” as Garda investigations conclude.
It also said that a technical revision of the dangerous driving causing death offence had resulted in an extra 156 incidents recorded over the period 2003 to 2019.
However, the homicide category shows murders and manslaughters dropped by 20%. It also shows a 34% increase in fraud offences in the last year.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan welcomed Garda efforts at reducing homicides and intercepting gangland murder teams, which he said has saved 64 lives since 2016.