Thursday, 10 September 2020

Ceisteanna (12, 191, 193, 194)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

12. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the levels of reported crime in each category throughout the past 12 months with particular reference to the extent to which the Covid-19 crisis has impacted on the justice system; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [22807/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

191. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the number of crimes reported in County Kildare on a monthly basis for the past 12 months by category; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23248/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

193. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the extent to which noticeable increases and decreases in various crime categories have occurred in County Kildare in the past 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23250/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

194. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the various categories of crimes in respect of which increases or decreases have been noted in the past 12 months throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [23251/20]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí ó Béal (9 píosaí cainte) (Ceist ar Justice)

These questions are to ascertain the level, extent and category of the various crimes reported in the last 12 months and the possible impact of the Covid-19 crisis on these numbers.

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.

Has it been possible to focus special resources and reaction in those areas that have shown an increase in crime and particularly in those areas which have had a serious threat to the well-being of the community and the lives of members of the community?

The work of An Garda Síochána is directed by the Garda Commissioner and his team, but I can say that where a particular increase has been identified in these types of crimes it has been possible for An Garda Síochána to place particular emphasis and a focus on trying to improve the response to and support for those individuals affected by crime. Regarding the area of domestic abuse, for example, where there was a great increase in crimes in the last six months, An Garda Síochána has made a great effort to engage with those who are seen as being particularly vulnerable. Several campaigns and plans have also been rolled out in recent months, and members of the Garda have increased their engagement and are ensuring that they are being proactive in trying to address these particular concerns, as well as identifying people within units to provide help.

I thank the Minister for her reply. Has there been a commensurate number of prosecutions arising from the increased incidence of crime in each category?

I do not have the figures now, but I can respond to the Deputy later. I have exact figures for Kildare, the Deputy's county, but I appear to have mislaid them in my documents. I will pass those figures on to the Deputy once these Questions are finished.

Deputy Durkan will be delighted to receive them. I thank the Minister. We just have enough time for Deputy Naughten to introduce his question.

On my Question No. 13, I welcome the commitment in the programme for Government to bring in a pathway to long-term residency for undocumented people and their dependants within the next 16 months. I would like to know where are we with that process and what progress is being made.

I thank Deputy Naughten, but we are out of time, unfortunately.

Question No. 13 replied to with Written Answers.
Written Answers are published on the Oireachtas website.