Monday, 11 September 2017

Ceisteanna (658)

Seán Sherlock

Ceist:

658. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the measures being taken by An Garda Síochána to categorise crime statistics in each county correctly. [38534/17]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will recall that on 25 July 2017, I published the Report of the CSO-led Expert Group on Crime Statistics. The Expert Group was established to specifically address six recommendations arising from the Garda Inspectorate Report on Crime Investigation 2014 which directly related to the compilation of crime statistics.

During the course of the Group’s meetings, a number of new measures were implemented on the Garda PULSE database with the objective of improving data quality and these were outlined to the Group by An Garda Síochána. The Group was advised that PULSE 6.8 was released in November 2015. Among the enhancements outlined as part of this release was the introduction of a Victim Assessment screen which included the mandatory recording of data relating to the apparent motive for a crime incident, such as whether it has been motivated by domestic violence or by specific types of discrimination including by age, disability, race, religion, gender or sexual orientation.

Furthermore, since the establishment of the Expert Group, a Liaison Group was set up between the Central Statistics Office and An Garda Síochána as a formal, high-level mechanism for consultation and communication between both organisations that will facilitate co-operation and ensure that both organisations can fulfil their respective statutory obligations for the production of crime statistics as set out in the Garda Síochána Act, 2005 and in accordance with the procedures and requirements of the Statistics Act, 1993. The Liaison Group will, inter alia, oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the Expert Group. In addition, a revised Memorandum of Understanding between the CSO and An Garda Síochána was signed in 2017.

The Deputy will be aware that the CSO recently announced they were deferring the release of the Quarterly Recorded Crime Statistics for Quarter 1 2017, which was due on 28 June 2017. I am advised that this deferral arose on foot of An Garda Síochána’s decision to extend their review of homicide statistics and, therefore, it was not possible to conduct the normal CSO data verification process in advance of the publication of new crime statistics.

It is important to note that these issues remain under close scrutiny by the Policing Authority, and that the Garda authorities have undertaken to provide further information to the Authority, as well as to the CSO. I also expect to receive further updates from the Garda authorities as this work is progressed. Given the Policing Authority’s important oversight role, I am sure the Deputy will agree that it is entirely appropriate that this matter is the subject of careful examination and inquiry by the Authority.

We must bear in mind that issues with the consistent recording of crime data are not unique to this jurisdiction, and I am assured that there is continuing close engagement by the CSO with An Garda Síochána in relation to this matter and to support the ongoing improvements to our official crime statistics generally. The CSO has already carried out two detailed reviews of crime data quality, in 2015 and 2016, and I understand that further general reviews of crime data quality are planned. The CSO’s work provides an important measure of re-assurance to support ongoing work to enhance the quality of the official crime statistics.

However, to be of further assistance to the Deputy, I have also sought a report from An Garda Síochána in relation to this matter in case there is anything they wish to add to the above and I will contact the Deputy again should any additional details become available.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A:

I refer to your Parliamentary Question (No. 658 of 11 September 2017) where you sought:

"....measures that are token by An Garda Síochána, to categorise crime statistics in each county correctly”.

You will recall that I had sought a report from An Garda Slochána on the matter and I undertook to contact you again when further information was to hand.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that in terms of classification, a new process is in place which Is currently being piloted in the Northern Region, whereby the Garda Information Services Centre (GISC) is responsible for the determination of the appropriate PULSE category.

I am further advised that Assistant Commissioner, Legal and Compliance acts as ‘decision arbiter’ where a dispute over classification arises.