I propose to take Questions Nos. 12, 191,193 and 194 together.
I thank the Deputy for raising this issue. As the Deputy is aware, the Central Statistics Office, CSO, as the national statistical agency, is responsible for the compilation and publication of all crime statistics. The CSO produces these statistics using data recorded on An Garda Síochána’s PULSE system and makes regular releases, under reservation, concerning various crime statistics, including recorded and detected crime. The CSO also continues to work with An Garda Síochána to address quality issues in the underlying sources used to compile the statistics.
I am advised by the Garda authorities that since the commencement of the current Government restrictions under Covid-19, there has been a general, and welcome, decrease in many categories of crime. However, some categories have, unfortunately, increased such as domestic abuse, controlled drugs, simple possession, weapons and explosives offences and cybercrime or online fraud, as I mentioned earlier.
I can inform the Deputy that the official crime statistics from the CSO for the second quarter of 2020 are due to be released later this month and I look forward to reviewing these statistics when they are available, because they will be of great benefit in assessing the impact of Covid-19 on crime trends. I refer to whether this was for the first six months or, as we have started to reopen our society, our communities and our economy, if we see those trends changing again.
Regarding the rest of the criminal justice system, since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Irish Prison Service and the Courts Service have shown considerable capacity to adapt and respond to ensure that the administration of justice continues in an effective and safe manner. Such measures include video-link appearances from prisons for persons currently in custody; judgments being issued online; avoiding the need for legal practitioners to attend in court; online training and e-manuals for staff; and e-meetings. In addition, a wide range of measures has been implemented to protect our prison population, in line with public health advice, including widespread testing for Covid-19 infection and a 14-day quarantine period for persons newly committed to the prison system.
The business of the justice system is of fundamental importance and the commitment, flexibility and innovation demonstrated by all involved towards delivering continuity of access to justice during the current public health emergency is very welcome.