REPORTS of sexual assault are rising in Cork city, prompting calls for a more detailed analysis of the data.
Gardaí have dealt with 105 cases of sexual assault in the city so far this year - a rise of 12% on the same period in 2018.
Chief Superintendent Barry McPolin said the rise may be attributed in part to the establishment of the Protective Services Unit (PSU) at Anglesea Street — which specialises in sexual crime cases — and this has led to more victims coming forward.
However, reports of rape have dropped dramatically by 33%, from 48 last year to 33 in 2019.
Sinn Féin TD Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire has asked for the data to be examined further in order to determine why the reporting figures are fluctuating, reducing instances of rape but rising for sexual assault.
“The number of rapes is down substantially but they are still far, far too high. The number of sexual assaults is up and as far as I recall I’m sure that has been up at nearly every Joint Policing Committee meeting. We need to have the discussion on whether this is down to increased reporting, increased incidents or a mixture of both.
“The ambition of the PSU is that it will handle all sexual offences, as I understand it, how close are we to that?” Ó Laoghaire asked.
Mr McPolin responded that the figures of reporting had increased since the PSU was set up but cases are allocated to the unit on their seriousness.
“Two sergeants and seven Gardaí are allocated to that unit. It was two and eight but we have somebody on maternity leave. We will be looking to increase that unit exponentially next year.
“All cases are serious but the most serious cases are dealt with by the PSU and other cases are handled by the district detective unit who have the support of the professional unit here at Anglesea Street,” he added.
Meanwhile, assaults causing harm have risen by 17% to 31, while minor assaults have also risen to 781 - 19% jump.