crime trends | 

Domestic abuse behind majority of murders in Ireland for first time figures show

Sexual offences involving domestic abuse have also increased four-fold in the past year

File image© PA

Robin Schiller and Paul

A Garda review of crime trends has found that the majority of murders in Ireland last year had a domestic abuse motivation.

Sexual offences involving domestic abuse have also increased four-fold in the past year while women are more likely to be targeted in a residential setting.

The figures were revealed by gardaí today as part of its detailed analysis of recorded domestic, sexual and gender-based violence offences.

Last year there were 25 murders recorded in Ireland, of which 13 (52pc) were linked to domestic abuse.

Gardaí say that, while murder rates have dropped over time, this is the first time in the years analysed since 2013 that this motivation has been linked to the majority of murders.

In 2021 there were 817 sex crimes with a domestic abuse motivation reported, compared to 205 offences the previous year.

The figure represents a 399pc increase and accounted for a quarter of all sexual offences reported last year.

On average gardaí respond to between 120 and 150 domestic abuse incidents every day with 37,435 incidents reported so far this year, a 9pc increase on 2020.

Sara Parsons, principal officer with the garda Analysis Service, said that domestic abuse had spiked when Covid-19 lockdowns were introduced, but added it is "striking" that these incidents have continued at a higher level following the easing of restrictions, unlike other crimes.

She added that this could be related to an increase in reporting rates and that they want people to come forward and report crimes.

The review of Pulse data looked primarily at homicides, sexual offences, and the category of assaults, threats to kill and related offence between 2019 and 2021. However, long-term trends since 2013 were also included to provide further context.

In 84pc of such crimes female victims knew the perpetrator, compared to 61pc of male victims.

Women are also more likely to be targeted in a residential setting, while for males this is more likely to occur in a non-residential setting.

Between 2013 and 2021 there were 388 deaths recorded as murder, manslaughter or infanticide, with adult males (71pc) the primary victims in this crime category.

When a male is the victim of a domestic abuse killing, they were more likely to be a child under the age of 18 at the time.

The introduction of the victim offender relationship field on Pulse in July 2021 for sexual offences and assault related crimes has also supported the identification of additional incidents where there was a domestic abuse element.

Detective Chief Superintendent Colm Noonan, of the Garda National Protective Services Bureau, said that the review will let gardaí push forward at an operational level and focus on enhancing how they respond to victims of gender based sexual violence.

The senior garda said that they are also rolling out risk evaluation tools which will be critical in how gardaí determine the risk to a victim when responding to a domestic violence incident.

"As a society, there has been a hugely positive sea change in how we view, understand and tolerate domestic abuse in our homes and in our communities, and how absolutely unacceptable it now is.

"This report and the detailed analysis and trends it provides, particularly around the increased and enhanced recording of the Victim Offender Relationship and Domestic Abuse motives, will inform us, at an operational level, on how we can build on the successful achievements of Operation Faoiseamh.

"I urge anyone who has in the past or may be currently suffering Domestic, Sexual or Gender Based Violence to contact any Garda station or in an emergency to call 999/112. I can assure victims that they will be supported and every incident will be investigated.

"By fully exposing these crimes, as well as constantly improving our policing response and wider policies, we can help reduce the prevalence of domestic abuse in our society.”

Last June, the Garda Commissioner was forced to publicly apologise to victims of domestic violence whose emergency calls were not properly responded to.

An internal inquiry was launched into how thousands of 999 calls were cancelled by gardaí across the country over a 22-month period.

The controversy began after it was discovered more than 200,000 emergency calls between 2019 and 2020 — over 3,000 of which related to domestic violence — had been improperly cancelled.

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