Written Answers. - Rape Cases.

477.

asked the Minister for Justice the number of cases of rape that have been reported for each year over the last five years; the average sentence served by each convicited criminal; and if he has any proposals to amend legislation to provide for higher minimum penalties for this crime.

Crime statistics are compiled annually in respect of the 12 month period ending on 30th September in each year and are published in the annual reports of the Commissioner of the Garda Síochána on crime. The following are the number of cases of rape which were reported or became known to the Garda during the five years up to 30th September, 1974:—

1970, 15; 1971, 24; 1972, 26; 1973, 42; 1974, 29.

During the quarter ended 31st December, 1974, a further six cases were reported or became known to the Garda.

Section 48 of the Offences Against the Person Act, 1861, provides that a person convicted of the crime of rape shall be liable to be kept in penal servitude for life. No minimum penalty is provided. It is a matter for the courts to determine the penalty to be imposed in individual cases and I have no proposals to introduce amending legislation to provide for a minimum penalty which would limit the discretion of the court.

Calculation of the average period served by persons sentenced to imprisonment for any offence would require a special examination of individual files. It may be taken that, in general, the period served in prison is the period to which the person is sentenced less the usual one-quarter remission for good conduct. In some cases, when circumstances of a mitigating nature apply, somewhat earlier release under supervision may be allowed. In this connection it might be mentioned that in 1974 prison sentences imposed for rape ranged from 18 months to ten years.