On Monday the CSO published the crime statistics for quarter one of 2019. There were some welcome decreases in a number of crime categories, including homicide, the level of which was down by 14% compared to the level in quarter one of 2018, and burglary, the level of which showed a 10% decrease. There was also a significant increase in the reporting of fraud and related offences, with 1,500 additional incidents reported when compared to quarter one of 2018. I welcome the increased reporting of crime and the fraud figures, in particular, which reflect the significant step-up in policing activity with respect to these offences. While I also welcome the increase in the reporting of sexual offences, the continued upward trend of these offences is a concern. As the Deputy will be aware, the Government has adopted a number of measures to combat sexual offences and support the victims of these crimes. They include legislative steps, the roll-out of the Garda divisional protective services units and public information campaigns. This is an area that is kept under review.
As outlined to the Deputy last week, the CSO's official crime figures remain “under reservation”. This is by no means unique to An Garda Síochána and similar issues have been reported in other jurisdictions, including the United Kingdom, Australia, the United State of America and Denmark. However, it is clear that progress is being made through the joint efforts of An Garda Síochána and the CSO to improve the quality of the crime statistics. In December last the CSO published a third review of the quality of recorded crime statistics based on data recorded on the PULSE database system for crimes reported to the Garda in 2017. The review concluded, inter alia, that clear improvements had been made in the manner in which criminal incidents were being recorded on the PULSE system. While this is encouraging, it is also clear that there is more work to be done in this area. My Department, in conjunction with the Policing Authority, will continue to monitor the progress of An Garda Síochána to ensure the national crime statistics are returned to the highest standard.