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Recorded crime stats come with a caveat

25 Jun 2019 / CRIME Print

Recorded crime stats come with a caveat

Crime figures from An Garda Síochána show a large rise in the number of recorded incidents of fraud, deception and related offences in the year to March 2019 -- up by 28.5% over the previous 12-months -- from 5,322 to 6,841 recorded crimes.

The figures are contained in the recorded crime figures for the first quarter of 2019, and are released “under reservation” by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). 

The number of recorded incidents of controlled drug offences increased by 16.2%, from 16,564 to 19,247. The upward trend in reported sexual offences also continued, up by 10% on the previous 12-month period, to 3,231 incidents in the year to March 2019.

Burglary and related offences fell by 10.3% compared with the previous 12 months, to 16,766 incidents in the year to March 2019.

The number of offences relating to damage to property and the environment fell by 5.8%.

Recorded homicides fell from 84 to 72.

Publication suspended

The figures above have been published subject to a CSO caveat. It describes the data as “under reservation” -- meaning that “the quality of these statistics do not meet the standards required of official statistics published by the CSO”.

The CSO points out that it first suspended the publication of recorded crime statistics in 2014 following a Garda Inspectorate report that identified quality issues in relation to the recording of data on the PULSE system.

“The PULSE system is the only source of recorded crime data available to the CSO to produce these statistics,” the CSO says.

In 2015, the CSO published a Review of the Quality of Crime Statistics. It then recommenced publishing recorded crime statistics, but with caveats in relation to the quality of the underlying data. 

Data vacuum

Since 2015, further quality issues have emerged in relation to PULSE data. As a result, the CSO took the decision in early 2017 to postpone further publication of the recorded crime data. 

By the first quarter of 2018, recorded crime statistics had not been published by the CSO for 12 months.

It says: “The long-term absence of timely, impartial and transparently produced recorded crime statistics creates a vacuum for policy decision makers and for all interested citizens. Therefore, the CSO felt that the over-riding public interest was best served by the resumption of publication of recorded crime statistics, categorised as ‘under reservation’ to highlight the quality issues.”  

Homicide incidents

Due to an ongoing review by An Garda Síochána into the recording of homicide incidents from 2003 – 2017, the CSO states that “it is likely that this review will result in changes to the classification of some incidents. 

“Data quality issues raised by the CSO in relation to the recording of homicide incidents may also result in further revisions of homicide data. Some of the data quality issues raised could apply to other crime groups,” it concludes.

The recorded crime details for Q1 of 2019 can be viewed here

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