Thursday, 1 February 2018

Ceisteanna (157, 158)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

157. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when the report on the review of possible misclassification of homicide cases will be published; if he has received a version of this report; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5140/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Ceist:

158. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on reports that a significant number of potential homicide cases were misclassified between 2013 and 2015; the actions he will take to ensure that past errors are rectified and not repeated in the future. [5141/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 157 and 158 together.

I can advise the Deputy that An Garda Síochána is working with the CSO to resolve an issue which emerged in relation to the classification of homicide offences. The expert oversight by the CSO of crime statistics is welcome in order to ensure that we can have confidence in the official crime statistics and can tailor our policies accordingly.

The Deputy will be aware that when a homicide occurs, the offence may be classified as murder, manslaughter or violent death. Of course in all the cases in question the crime was recorded and recorded as a homicide. My understanding is that an issue emerged due to the fact that the classification of a crime may change as investigations evolve, for example, a murder charge may ultimately lead to a manslaughter conviction in the Courts, or an assault causing harm may subsequently result in a death some time later, necessitating a reclassification to murder or manslaughter.

An Garda Síochána initiated a review of homicide classifications, initially for the period 2013-2015 but later extended the review to cover the period from 2003-2017. This is obviously a time consuming and complex process but it is important that both An Garda Síochána and the CSO are confident that their data is robust and accurate. While the review is underway, the CSO has suspended the publication of quarterly crime statistics with the most recent figures being for Q4 2016. The review has not been published as it is not yet complete however the details will be made public on completion.

While I note that a figure of 41 deaths requiring reclassification has been mentioned in public discourse, this is incorrect. An Garda Síochána has advised that the examination of 524 cases for the period 2013-2015 identified 41 cases which required further examination and, out of those 41 cases, 12 deaths were identified which required reclassifications on PULSE - a total of 2.3% of all cases reviewed.

It is important to note that, in the review of the 41 cases, it was identified that each death was fully investigated by An Garda Síochána. An Garda Síochána has also indicated that their Family Liaison Officers were in contact with the families of the 12 deceased persons whose PULSE records required reclassification.

The Policing Authority continues to monitor this issue and ensure that there is independent scrutiny of how An Garda Síochána records data and I welcome their continued diligence in this matter. I also note the statement made by the Authority earlier today indicating that these issues will be considered again at the Authority's meeting with the Garda Commissioner, to be held in public on 22 February 2018.

In advance of this meeting, I can also advise the Deputy that I, along with officials from my Department, will be meeting with representatives from the Policing Authority and An Garda Síochána next week to discuss the progress being made on this important issue.

My Department remains in close contact with the CSO and An Garda Síochána to ensure an early return to the publication of official Crime Statistics by the CSO at the earliest possible opportunity.