Home > Review of the quality of crime statistics 2016.

Central Statistics Office. (2016) Review of the quality of crime statistics 2016. Cork: Central Statistics Office.

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Recorded crime statistics play a key role in informing society of the level and type of crime in Ireland. In November 2014, the Garda Inspectorate published a report called “Crime Investigation” which raised serious concerns about the recording of crimes on the Garda PULSE system. Since PULSE is used to produce CSO recorded crime statistics, the CSO suspended publication and began a comprehensive review of the accuracy of Garda Síochana crime data. In particular, the CSO wished to examine the extent to which the issues highlighted by the Inspectorate are present in Garda crime data.

After the first review, the CSO resumed publication of recorded crime statistics and determined that it was necessary to repeat the analysis at regular intervals. The main CSO findings on the issues examined in the latest report are as follows:

  • An estimated 17% of crime reported to An Garda Síochana in 2015 via their CAD equipped divisions does not appear to be captured on PULSE. These CAD divisions accounted for approximately 63% of all recorded crime in Ireland. The comparable non-recording figure for PULSE crime incidents created from Garda paper records in non-CAD equipped stations was 16%.
  • It also appeared that an estimated one in five non-CAD equipped stations did not keep paper records which could be used to estimate the non-recording of reported crime on PULSE.
  • 6.4% of all offences created on PULSE in 2015 were created more than a week after they were first reported.
  • Based on a study of 1,000 randomly sampled PULSE incidents there were only four cases of a narrative being changed without apparent justification.
  • Across seven major crime categories1 (Assault, Burglary, Criminal Damage, Public Order, Robbery, Theft and Unauthorised taking or interfering with a vehicle), an estimated 3% of incidents were incorrectly classified to the wrong crime category while a further 2% of cases had insufficient information to determine the correct classification.
  • Some 3% of incidents classified to Attention and Complaints (a non-crime category on PULSE) should have been classified as a crime. The equivalent figures for Property Lost and non-crime Domestic Disputes were 1% and 2% respectively.

In this report “crime category” will be used to refer to the Garda crime categories on PULSE while “ICCS crime category” will be used to refer to the CSO crime classification nomenclature.

  • An analysis of all reclassified incidents in seven different offence categories from 2015 which had been downgraded in seriousness showed that one third (33%) lacked justification in the narrative.
  • Some 63% of crimes marked as detected had corresponding charges or summons, while 37% did not have charges or summons attached. The status of detected was incorrectly applied to 18% of those crimes marked as detected but without a charge or summons sheet attached. Removing these detections would reduce the overall number of detected crimes by 10%.
  • 21% of invalidated crimes lacked sufficient explanation as to why they were classified as such.
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