Thursday, 13 April 2000
Dáil Eireann Debate
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): Crime statistics are published in the annual reports of the Garda Síochána, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library. The reports contain information on a national, regional and divisional basis. The most recent annual report details the crime statistics for 1998. I am informed by the Garda authorities that statistics for each of the past six months are not readily available, and could only be obtained by means of a disproportionate expenditure of Garda time and resources.
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): I can inform the Deputy that indictable crime statistics can be found in the annual reports of the Garda Síochána, copies of which are available in the Oireachtas Library. The most recent annual report details the crime statistics for 1998.
As set out in the annual report, 38 murders were recorded in the year 1998. While Garda crime statistics for 1999 have not yet been formally published, I am informed by the Garda authorities that provisional figures for that year also indicate that 38 murders were recorded. The numbers of murders recorded over the past two years are in fact lower than the numbers recorded in 1996 and 1995, 43 and 42, respectively. In 1999, nine cases of manslaughter were recorded, compared with 13 cases of manslaughter in 1998. These figures compare to a total of 16 recorded in 1997. Again, I should stress that the statistics for 1999 are provisional and subject to change.
I am satisfied that the current arrangements for the investigation of murder and manslaughter cases are satisfactory and I am informed by the Garda authorities that all such crimes are investigated to a conclusion.
136. Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has carried out any investigations into the extent, scale and nat ure of unreported crimes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [11303/00]
Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): As the Deputy may be aware, last year the Central Statistics Office published the results of a crime and victimisation survey module which was included in the quarterly household survey for the last quarter of 1998. This module was the result of consultations between my Department, the Garda, the Central Statistics Office and other relevant bodies. The survey found that the percentage of crimes contained in the sample reported to the Garda varied considerably, from over 95% in the case of car thefts to less than 40% in the case of vandalism. The level of reporting of crimes depended on such factors as the seriousness of the crime and whether an insurance claim was being made.
It should be remembered, however, that victimisation surveys cannot be directly compared with the Garda statistics. The CSO drew attention to the fact that “the survey results are not directly comparable with crime statistics published in the Garda Síochána annual report, as there are fundamental differences in sources, definitions and classification methodology”. It is also worth noting that the CSO has highlighted that the survey data are subject to sampling variation and that some of the results should be interpreted with extreme caution. In simple terms, we are not comparing like with like and this is always crucial when comparing any two data collection systems if robust conclusions are to be drawn. My Department is considering the implications of results of the CSO survey and I understand that the National Crime Council is also considering the results of the survey. I understand that in terms of international comparisons for surveys of this type Ireland compares favourably with similar countries.
A recent survey by the Economic and Social Research Institute on victims of recorded crime in Ireland observed that crime is often inconvenient rather than traumatic and that victims tend not to be the most vulnerable members of society. Perhaps this explains some level of under-reporting. Nevertheless, I would urge the public to report any crime to the Garda.
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