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Latest: Gardaí must have adequate resources to record crime stats, says Varadkar

Update 1.20pm

By Elaine Loughlin, Political Correspondent

Gardaí must be given the adequate resources to correctly record crimes, the Taoiseach has told the Dáil.

It comes as the Central Statistics Office (CSO) found that 234 incidents should have been recorded as homicides in crime figures between 2003 and 2016.

New CSO data has recorded an 18% increase in reported homicides.

The CSO published the figures this morning, under reservation, after suspending the publication of crime statistics last year because of serious concerns about the recording of homicides by the Gardaí.

Labour leader Brendan Howlin, raised concerns about the underreporting of homicide figures in the Dáil this afternoon claiming: "We do not have reliable crime statistics in this State".

"The public needs to have confidence that we have accurate recordings of the most serious crimes and that they are properly investigated and that our statistics are accurately reported."

He asked the Taoiseach if there would be an indepenendent investigation into how crimes were not properly classified or reported.

Responding, Leo Varadkar welcomed the fact that the CSO had now begun publishing figures again.

"They are now in a position to produce statistics, under a new category called 'under reservation' this is a classification that is in keeping with other jurisdictions."

He said this classification means that figures still "don't meet standards required for official statistics published by the CSO".

"The best thing that we can do is to ensure that into the future statistics are accurate.

"I think it's essential that the gardaí have adequate resources, that they have the adequate training, the adequate ICT, but also that they have the adequate cultural standards, management and expectations that these numbers are collected correctly in future.

"What you don't measure you can't improve so it's important that we have good statistics that are accurate, that are comparable and appear frequently and periodically," Mr Varadkar told the Dáil.

He said an extra 800 gardaí would be recruited this year on top of 600 last year.

Earlier: An Garda Síochána welcomes CSO crime figures published 'under reservation'

A review of crime statistics from 2003 to 2016 has seen a 43% jump in manslaughter incidents.

135 cases were counted by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), up from the original figure of 94.

The CSO stopped publishing crime figures for a year - due to concerns over the quality of data supplied by the Gardaí.

Dangerous driving leading to death figures were up by almost 40%; the original figure of 504 was revised upwards to 700.

In all, homicide figures rose by 18%, while other crimes like fraud and sexual offences also rose significantly.

Deputy Commissioner John Twomey says improvements have been made in how gardaí are counting crimes: "It is something we're very conscious of and we've done a lot of work with the Central Statistics Office over the last 12-18 months to try and improve and we will continue to do that.

"We have made a lot of changes ourselves internally in terms of our own internal processes and how we record them, how we evaluate them.

"We have had a recent release of Pulse which again improves the recording capacity."

An Garda Síochána welcomed the publication by the CSO of the crime statistics for 2017.

Deputy Commissioner Twomey went on to say that An Garda Síochána fully respects the independence of the CSO in publishing the crime statistics "in whatever manner they see fit" and recognises that they are being published with the designation of "under reservation”.

He also said that An Garda Síochána has stated for some time that it needs to greatly improve its data quality and a range of measures are being implemented to do this.

Deputy Commissioner Twomey said: "The publication of the crime statistics is a step in the right direction, but we know we need to do a lot more in this area. We will be working closely with the CSO on an improvement plan so that we are satisfied that our data properly supports operational policing and the CSO can remove the ‘under reservation’ designation.”

The Deputy Commissioner said it was important to look not only at the figures for 2017 but at longer-term trends.

He said: "For instance, while burglaries did increase overall in 2017, this was from a low level as burglaries had significantly dropped in recent years due to Operation Thor.

"Any rise in crime is a concern. An Garda Síochána regularly monitor crime trends and puts in place operations to address any crimes that are rising. For example, a multi-strand operation to tackle assaults is currently being examined.”

He added that while more analysis would be required, it was An Garda Síochána’s belief that the rise in sexual assaults was due to increased reporting, which would be welcome.

The Garda review into homicides dating back to 2003 is continuing.

Deputy Twomey said that reductions over recent years in crime categories such as robbery, burglary, thefts, damage to property and public order were "a real demonstration of the hard work and dedication of the men and women of An Garda Síochána".

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