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Justice Minister Notes Release Of CSO Crime Stats For Q3 2021.

A 48% increase in crimes against the person recorded in the Thurles area in Quarter 3 of 2021.

The Minister for Justice, Mrs Helen McEntee TD, has noted today’s publication of Recorded Crime Statistics for Q3, 2021, published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). These statistics cover the 12-month period up to the end of September 2021.

Speaking about the latest statistics, the Minister said,

“The latest statistics from the CSO show welcome decreases in many categories of crime. However, we must consider them in the context of the Covid-19 pandemic and the various necessary public health restrictions that have come with that. And while these decreases are to be welcomed, it is important to note the significant increase in reported fraud crimes and recorded sexual offences.

I also note that the statistics once again show an increase in those recorded as driving under the influence of drugs. I would strongly urge anyone considering doing so not to engage in this behaviour over the Christmas and New Year period as it can lead to real tragedy at what should be a special time of year.

Fraud Crime

Today’s CSO figures state that reported fraud offences have increased by 72% in the year to Q3. This increase primarily relates to fraudulent attempts to obtain personal or banking information online or by phone as well as fraudulent use of credit and debit card information.

In October, as part of European Cybersecurity Month, the Department launched a major cybercrime awareness campaign, involving Community Gardaí and Crime Prevention Officers around the country providing information to local communities on how to avoid falling victim to such scams. This included local information events, as well as the normal engagement Gardaí have with their communities. There were also dedicated radio advertisements broadcast nationally as part of the campaign.

The Minister stated,

“As Christmas approaches and more people are shopping online, I encourage people to be mindful and not to respond or give out any personal or financial details.

We have all received some of these strange phone calls and text messages over the last few months. Some of them can be very sophisticated and unfortunately it is easy to be scammed out of significant amounts of money. I encourage anyone who believes they may have been the victim of fraud or scams to contact the Gardaí.”

Sexual offences

Today’s CSO figures also show that the number of recorded sexual offences has increased by almost 10% on the previous 12 month period. This increase may relate to an increase in incidents, increased reporting, better recording or a combination of these.

The Minister said,

“The significant and continued increase in sexual offenses is of particular concern. The No Excuses campaign that my department has been running since 2019 highlights that, as a society, we all have a role to play in preventing sexual harassment and sexual violence. The campaign underpins the message that sexual violence and harassment will not be tolerated. We are currently in the process of developing a further campaign to raise awareness of the meaning and importance of consent.

Through Justice Plan 2021 and Supporting a Victim’s Journey, I am working to reform the criminal justice system at every point in which a victim comes into contact with it, and to help victims and vulnerable witnesses in sexual violence cases.”

To date, a number of key actions have been delivered as part of implementing ‘Supporting a Victim’s Journey’ including: –

  • Legislating for the introduction of preliminary trial hearings;
  • The nationwide rollout of Divisional Protective Services Units (DPSU);
  • The first cohort of staff at a new sexual offences unit in the Director of Public Prosecutions office formally took up their roles in April;
  • Work to advance the training for all personnel who come into contact with vulnerable victims is underway;
  • As part of the Supporting a Victim’s Journey plan, the Department of Justice recently undertook a review of the Victims of Crime and Domestic, Sexual, Gender Based Violence funding in order to ensure that the grants provided by the Department are as effective as possible in supporting victims of crime within criminal justice processes.

The result of this review is that the Department is now in the process of developing multi-annual funding commitments for those organisations providing court accompaniment and other justice-related services. Additional funding has also been allocated to a number of organisations who were identified where additional funding would allow them to provide further services and to increase the geographical spread of support to victims of crime.

This additional funding is separate to increased funding recently announced under Budget 2022 for combatting domestic, sexual and gender based violence and for supporting victims of crime.

The Department has also agreed to the development and delivery of a significant new national survey on the prevalence of sexual violence in Ireland by the CSO. It will look in detail at the experience of sexual violence and abuse for both women and men in Ireland.

Property crime

The statistics show continued welcome decreases in property crime over the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Burglary was down 36%, Robbery was down 18% and theft was down 20% compared to the previous 12 month period.

Noting the ongoing Winter Phase of Operation Thor, Minister McEntee said,

“This year’s Winter Phase of Operation Thor commenced on 1 October 2021 and will continue until March 2022. This Operation is designed to specifically tackle the increase in the number of burglaries and associated criminal activity that usually occurs in the winter months by undertaking targeted enforcement and preventative activity. This includes the Lock Up and Light Up public awareness campaign encouraging homeowners to protect their homes over the winter months.

I urge the public to please exercise caution and follow the simple crime prevention advice which An Garda Síochána provides to communities at garda.ie/en/crime-prevention/ in order to keep people safe and keep crime numbers low.”

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