The Central Statistics Office in Ireland released statistics and data on recorded crime figures for the first time in around three years. These figures relate to the 2018 reporting year. The figures released show that only 1 in 10 reported sexual offences actually lead to a criminal charge being made.
New definitions as to certain issues such as detection have lead to the figures being hard to cross reference against earlier years.
Under the new definitions of detection (where a suspect has been identified and sanctioned to include a charge being brought) only 11% of rape and sexual assault offences were recorded as detected. That figure rises to around 85% for drug offences.
The Justice Minister acknowledged the figures and expressed disappointment at the low level of detection in sexual assault cases but indicated support for the work of the police. He did reference that improvements in the overall reporting and recording of offences meant that the figures were impacted from previous years but he was positive about the overall position and the improvements being made within the police as to investigation and handling of criminal reports. He feels that increased funding, improved ICT and greater police and support staff will lead to increases in the figures going forward.
The fact that sexual offences are so low in comparison to drug offences highlights the difficulties investigating these offences and in actually obtaining evidence to bring forward charges. In criminal cases and in civil claims the evidence is often very limited and can amount to one person’s word against another. The benefit of detailed records may therefore become the corner stone of any case.
Written by Fintan Canavan, partner, BLM