THE NUMBER OF fraud incidents recorded by An Garda Síochána has risen by more than 40% in the year to the second quarter of 2021.
The Central Statistics Office (CSO) has today published the latest recorded crime statistics, which cover the period to the end of June 2021.
The number of crime incidents recorded on An Garda Síochána’s Pulse database which were classified as fraud offences increased by more than 40% (up by 3,248 incidents to 11,253) in the year to Q2 2021 compared to the previous year.
“The increase has occurred mostly in Q1 and Q2 of 2021 and primarily relates to fraudulent attempts to obtain personal or banking information online or by phone as well as fraudulent use of credit and debit card information,” CSO statistician Sam Scriven said.
The number of crimes recorded in most other crime incident type categories fell in the year to Q2 2021 compared to the previous year, for example in burglary and related offences (down by 5,349, or 37.2%), theft and related offences (down by 13,231, or 22.0%) and robbery, extortion and hijacking offences (down by 444, or 20.7%).
There were also fewer crime incidents classified as attempts/threats to murder, assaults, harassments and related offences (down by 1,781, or 8.7%), while damage to property and to the environment fell by 5.8% and public order and other social code offences dropped by 9.9%.
The CSO said people should note when considering crime trends the varying Covid-19 restrictions in place for much of 2020 and 2021 and the likely impact of such restrictions on levels of crime.
A total of 3,778 offences were recorded on Pulse for breaches of Covid-19 regulations in Q2 2021. This was a marked decrease on the 10,438 such offences recorded during Q1 2021 following the introduction of a new system of Fixed Payment Notices (fines) in respect of breaches of Covid-19 regulations in December 2020.
The reduction reflects the general easing of restrictions during Q2 relative to Q1.
The figure includes unpaid fines and other offences, but does not include fines which were paid.
On the issue of cancelled 999 calls, Scriven said that “an internal An Garda Síochána investigation into the inappropriate cancellation of calls on its Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) system is ongoing”.
“The premature or improper cancellation of calls on the CAD system may mean that records relating to crimes, which were reported to AGS, were not created on the Pulse system, and are therefore not counted in recorded crime statistics,” Scriven said.
“The CSO is awaiting clarification on the full impact of the issue from AGS, including the time periods involved (how far back this issue goes), the crime types impacted, and crucially, the estimated numbers of crimes which were not recorded on Pulse due to inappropriate cancellation of CAD calls, before it can determine the impact on recorded crime statistics.”
The statistics from the CSO have been published “under reservation”, meaning they do not meet the standard of statistics officially published by the organisation.
The sole source of data for recorded crime data is the Pulse system used internally by An Garda Siochana.
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In 2014, the Garda Inspectorate report identified quality issues in relation to the recording of data on the PULSE system, leading the CSO to suspend publication of the data.
This has led to ongoing reviews and suspensions of publishing data.
As of Q1 in 2018, the quality of the data did not meet the CSO’s standards for completeness and accuracy.
But the absence of regular, impartial and transparently produced crime statistics is said to create a vacuum for policymakers and citizens.
As such, the CSO felt that the “over-riding public interest” was best served by the resumption of publication of recorded crime statistics, categorised as “under reservation” to highlight the quality issues.
It means the figures are likely to be revised, particularly in homicide cases, where there is an ongoing review of incidents between 2003 and 2017.
With reporting by Press Association