'significant rise' New sex assault unit to be launched after jump in reports
A special unit in the State's prosecution service to deal with a significant increase in reports of sex crimes will be launched by the end of this year.
Last year files on sexual offences submitted to the office of the Director of Public Prosecutions (DPP) increased by 12pc - with cases this year already up 23pc on 2019.
The DPP, Clare Loftus, has said this "significant rise" means a dedicated unit to deal with sex crimes is needed now more than ever.
Ms Loftus made the comments in the DPP's annual report for 2019 which focuses in particular on sexual offences, the implications of Brexit and victims of crime.
Last year her office gained Government support to establish a Sexual Offences Unit, with the first phase being rolled out by the end of this year.
The unit, which is expected to be fully operational in 2021, will prosecute all sexual offences in the Central Criminal Court and almost all such crimes in the Dublin Circuit Court.
"The need for a dedicated unit to deal with sexual offences is greater than ever as this year we continue to see a significant rise in sexual offence files submitted to the office," Ms Loftus said.
"Files submitted for directions on prosecution are currently up by 23pc on 2019," she added.
Figures from the DPP also show the number of prosecutions directed to go before the Circuit, Central and Special Criminal Courts in each county where an alleged offence occurred.
Limerick had the highest prosecutions on indictment per capita in Ireland last year, with 1.34 per 1,000 people.
Longford had the second highest prosecutions directed with 1.34 per 1,000, while Louth and Dublin were next, with 1.11 and 1.09 per 1,000 respectively.
The county with the lowest number of prosecutions directed on indictment was Offaly, at 0.36 per 1,000 living there.
Figures for the Special Criminal Court also show, of the 33 cases finalised in the years 2018 and 2017, every single one resulted in a conviction.
This includes 18 offences relating to firearms and explosives, with eight convictions for conspiracy to commit murder resulting from a number of successful Garda operations against the Kinahan cartel.