Speaking today on the publication of the Central Statistics Office recorded crime statistics for the twelve month period ending with the first quarter of 2013, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD, paid tribute to “the consistent professionalism” of An Garda Síochána in confronting crime. The Minister welcomed the reduction in 13 of the 14 crime groups for which figures are given, as well as the overall reduction of 8% in the total number of crime incidents recorded in this CSO release.
Minister Shatter said: “These latest statistics confirm the commitment and capability of An Garda Síochána, which continues to provide a first class policing service and to enjoy the trust and support of the vast majority of our people.”
In particular, the Minister welcome the reduction of 9.1% in burglary and related offences which, the Minister said, “…is a clear demonstration of the effectiveness of the measures which the Garda Commissioner has put in place under Operation Fiacla to successfully disrupt and bring before the courts those who seek to prey on law abiding householders.”
Operation Fiacla is intelligence driven and specific burglary initiatives have been implemented in each Garda Region to target suspect offenders. As of 31 May, 5,233 persons have been arrested and 2,903 persons have been charged with burglary offences as a result of Operation Fiacla. Not only has the overall category of burglary and related offences fallen, but this category includes incidences of persons detected in possession of an article with intent to burgle, thereby preventing burglaries, and such detections are up by 12.7%. When this group of incidents is excluded, the fall in burglary is 9.6% and in aggravated burglary is 12.5%. The Minister expressed concern at the increase in one category of theft, theft from the person, which includes mobile phone theft, and which is being tackled proactively in a number of Garda operations.
Minister Shatter stated that “The Gardaí alone cannot prevent mobile phone theft. This type of theft is all too easy for those intent on criminality. I would urge members of the public to take great care with regard to how they use and where they keep their phones as they go about their daily lives. We are all mobile phone users and I believe a great deal can be done by each of us to ensure our phones are secure.”
The Minister acknowledged that where crime does occur it has a very significant impact on the quality of community life. However, he noted that the range of offences associated with anti-social behaviour also show notable decreases with public order offences down by 12.5%, assaults, threats and related offences down by 11.9% and damage to property down by 10.1%. The Minister acknowledged the continuing commitment of An Garda Síochána to work in partnership with local communities and he said the latest figures “underline the benefit of the community policing principles which are at the heart of day to day Garda activities”
Welcoming the reduction of 4.4% in homicide offences, 14.3% in weapons and explosives offences and a decline of 12.7% in controlled drugs offences the Minister said that, “it is clear that the Gardaí are continuing to implement robust and effective strategies to counter the evil activities of organised criminal gangs.” He expressed concern at the increase of 5.8% in the Kidnapping Offences category, there being 109 incidents during the relevant 12 months period as compared to 103 in the preceding 12 month period. Investigating such crimes will remain a top priority for An Garda Síochána.
In conclusion the Minister stated that “Despite the ongoing challenges faced by the Gardaí, including those posed by current economic realities, it is clear that the Commissioner and the whole Force are up to the task of confronting criminals and defending our communities. I also look forward to launching in the very near future a White Paper on Crime, incorporating a new National Anti Crime Strategy which will build on the achievements to date and underline the Government’s commitment to tackle and prevent crime.”