Dáil Éireann - Volume 515 - 07 March, 2000

Written Answers. - Crime Statistics.

60. Mr. Rabbitte asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the plans, if any, he has to review the manner in which Garda crime statistics are compiled in view of the apparent contradiction between figures produced by the Central Statistics Office's quarterly national household survey and official Garda figures and the high level of non-reporting reflected in the Central Statistics Office figures; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6857/00]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): As I have said previously, I welcome the publication of the Central Statistics Office survey data which were rigorous, comprehensive and unique. This is the first time a nationwide survey of this scale was carried out by the Central Statistics Office and I hope this would become a regular feature of the CSO work programme so that trends could be monitored over a period of time.

I must highlight, however, that the CSO drew attention to the fact that “the survey results are not directly comparable with crime statistics published in the Garda Síochána annual report, as there are fundamental differences in sources, definitions and classification methodology”. It is also worth noting that the CSO has highlighted that the survey data are subject to sampling variation and that some of the results should be interpreted with extreme caution. We are not comparing like with like and this is always crucial when comparing any two data collection systems if robust conclusions are to be drawn.

The main benefit of surveys such as these is to compare the trends which emerge from them over time. Unfortunately, there is little recent work to compare it with and there is no evidence that under-reporting of crime is higher now than it was at any other time. The logical conclusion is that if one in eight households experienced some level of crime in 1998 the comparative figure for 1996 was probably one in six given that reported [1511] crime figures has shown a significant drop in that period.

The House may be interested to know that in terms of international comparisons for surveys of this type Ireland compares favourably with similar countries for example England, Canada and the Netherlands. Nevertheless, I urge the public to report any crime which causes them concern to the Garda authorities. My Department is considering the implications of results of the CSO survey and I understand that the National Crime Council is also considering the results of the survey.