29/04/2011

Justice Minister Welcomes Decrease In Crime Groups

Following the publishing today by the CSO of crime figures for the first quarter of 2011, Justice Minister Alan Shatter welcomed the decrease in 10 out of 14 crime groups compared with the same quarter in 2010.

The figures show significant decreases in the number of homicide offences in the quarter (down 29.6%) and on an annualised basis (down 13.3%). Of particular note is that there was less than half of the number of cases of dangerous driving leading to death in the quarter, compared to the same quarter in 2010. The Minister remains concerned at the level of homicides and attempted homicides resulting from the activities of drug gangs and has discussed this issue with the Garda Commissioner. He wishes to acknowledge the action being taken by An Garda Síochána to address the scourge of the drug gangs.

The figures for property related crime (broadly speaking robbery, burglary and theft) show a mixed picture. While the number of cases of robbery, extortion and hijacking offences decreased by 3.2% in the quarter, the number of cases of burglary and related offences and theft and related offences increased by 8.5% and 5.3% respectively. The Minister said that he was well aware of the misery which burglaries can cause for people and has been assured that Garda management is constantly reviewing strategies to tackle this offence. He believes that the commitment contained in the Programme for Government to increase community policing is of particular importance as an active deterrent in such crimes.

While the number of controlled drug offences was down 12.3% quarter on quarter, there were significant increases of 53.8% and 22.2% in the quarter in the numbers of detected cases of cultivation or manufacture of drugs and importation of drugs respectively.

The Programme for Government contains a number of commitments which are aimed at helping in bringing to justice those responsible for committing crime. A DNA database will be established to assist An Garda Síochána in the investigation of serious crimes. The Minister will also introduce legislation to strengthen the powers of the Criminal Assets Bureau in relation to forfeiting the proceeds of crime, including drug traffickers and dealers. Gardaí will be freed up for front line policing by ensuring that administrative duties are carried out by civilian staff and by reforming case management systems ensuring that Gardaí are not unnecessarily detained in the courts.

The Minister said: “I want to make sure that we, as a community, are best placed to deal with the problem of crime in all its manifestations – not just the challenges we face now, but those likely to emerge in the coming years. And in drawing up that Strategy, the White Paper process will mean that we will be able to take measures which are based on a rigorous analysis of what works and take on board a range of ideas from community, expert and voluntary interests.”

(BMcN/GK)

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