Topical Issues Debate - The rate of detection of burglaries as reflected in recent CSO figures

Check Against Delivery 

I would like to thank Deputy Conaghan for bringing this matter to attention. I am speaking on behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality, who regrets that he is unable to be present due to other business. The Minister welcomes this opportunity to comment on recently published crime figures. The crime statistics overview published this week by the Central Statistics Office relates to the period 2006-2010 and includes a range of additional information not included in previous releases. These figures, of course, cover the period in office of the Last 2 Fianna Fail lead Governments. The most recent crime figures relate to 2011 and, these were published by the CSO on 30 March last.

These most recent statistics show a decrease in most types of crime during 2011, including homicide, assault, criminal damage and drug and public order offences. Taken together this overall decrease represents a substantial achievement for law enforcement and crime prevention in Ireland.

The Minister is, of course, concerned at the increase in the number of burglaries reflected in the latest CSO figures and welcomes the fact that An Garda Síochána is responding effectively to this development.

Insofar as the specific question of detection rates are concerned, the most recent CSO analysis shows a detection rate for burglary in the region of 25% for 2010. It is important to note that detection rates do vary according to the nature of the crime and that this is in line with international experience. Detection rates are often found to be lower for certain offences, such as burglaries and some other property crimes, as these generally only come to light after the event and after the offender has left the scene. These offences are inherently more difficult to investigate than some others. While our statistical system is not directly comparable with that of other countries, in the UK, for example, the difficulties presented in detecting burglaries are reflected in the fact that the detection rate for burglaries in England and Wales in 2010/2011 was recorded as 13%.

Notwithstanding the investigative challenges presented, however, the Gardaí are responding effectively and the Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner has recently announced the introduction of a wide range of measures aimed at tackling gangs involved in burglaries.

This operation, Operation Fiacla is particularly focused on identifying and targeting mobile gangs involved in burglaries around the country so as to disrupt their activities and bring them before the Courts. Operation Fiacla is intelligence-driven and specific burglary initiatives have been implemented in each Garda Region, in support of this Operation, to target suspect offenders, disrupt their activities and secure their attendance before the courts. These initiatives will optimise the use of existing structures and local Garda Management will ensure all personnel, community policing units, local traffic personnel, Regional Support and other specialised units are fully briefed on the initiative, with Divisional Crime Management Teams playing a key role in co-ordinating implementation.

Prevention is also a key component in tackling burglary and the National Crime Prevention Unit (NCPU) and Crime Prevention Officers at divisional level provide advice, information and support to organisations, businesses and individuals aimed at reducing burglary crime and the opportunity to commit burglary. These specially trained officers are skilled at identifying environmental design risks and advise on ways to reduce opportunities to commit burglary and other property crime. The NCPU has designed a number of crime prevention advice leaflets including advice on home security and burglary prevention through a step by step checklist. These leaflets and the checklist are available on the Garda website
 www.garda.ie.

It so happens that, today, the Garda Commissioner is launching the national ‘Garda Supporting Safer Communities Campaign’. This important campaign will highlight a range of key issues, in particular burglary prevention. The primary objective of this Garda Community Safety Campaign is to engage with, and raise awareness within communities of initiatives aimed at preventing crime, reducing the fear of crime and promoting community safety. In addition to the campaign being launched today, a further campaign will take place in September.

In addition to these community based initiatives, the Crime Call TV programme is broadcast once a month, to an average audience of 400,000 viewers. Gardaí often utilise the programme to highlight the issue of burglary prevention, as well as particular ongoing investigations.

For the Government's part, we will do everything we can to support the Gardaí in their work, to provide resources as public finances permit, and to respond to any legislative needs that are identified. 


CONCLUDING REMARKS
 


On behalf of the Minister for Justice and Equality, I wish to thank the Deputy again for raising this important matter and for the useful exchange of views.

In discussing issues likely burglary and other property crimes we need to have particular regard to the actions taken on the ground to support communities and enhance the general quality of lie. I have already referred to some aspects of the targeted operational response being pursued by the Gardaí, as well some of the crime prevention initiatives which they are pursuing.

It should also be mentioned, that underlying much of this approach to crime prevention and local engagement is the National Model of Community Policing, which is directed and supported each year by the Garda Síochána Annual Policing Plan. The Plan ascribes current key actions which govern policing priorities at a national level. Each Garda District and Divisional Officer also configures their policing response to local conditions to ensure that an appropriate policing service is delivered to each locality.

Community policing utilises a number of crime prevention programmes to encourage active participation with the public. An Garda Síochána, along with programme partners Muintir na Tíre, has established 1,345 Community Alert groups in rural Ireland. This is a valuable programme, which has been supporting community safety and a partnership between Gardaí and communities for many years. Likewise, Deputies will also be aware of the good work done through the Neighbourhood Watch programme throughout the country.


Despite constraints on public finances, substantial Garda resources remain in place and these must be seen in the context of the programme of real reform which is being delivered in An Garda Síochána under the Croke Park Agreement. The Government has confidence in the Garda Commissioner and the members of the Force in continuing on the delivery of this reform so as to provide effective frontline policing.

2 May 2012

Ends



Background Information –
 

CSO Recorded Crime Statistics 2011
 

Decreases
Down (%)
 

Homicide Offences 29.2

Kidnapping, Related Offences 22.4

Dangerous, Negligent Acts 17.8

Weapons and Explosives Offences 15.3

Offences against Government, Justice Procedures,
Organisation of Crime 14.5
Sexual Offences 13.5

Controlled Drug Offences 11.5

Public Order, Other Social Code Offences 10.8

Damage to Property, Environment 9.3

Robbery, Extortion, Hijacking Offences 8.7

Attempts/Threats to Murder, Assaults, Harassments,
Related Offences 6.2

Increases
Up (%)
 

Burglary, Related Offences 7.9

Fraud, Deception, Related Offences 6.3

Theft, Related Offences 0.1