50 per cent drop in Limerick sex offence detection rates

Verena Tarpey Rape Crisis MidWest

THE detection of sex offences in the Limerick Garda Division has dropped by almost half over the last two years. 

That’s according to figures released this week, which also show a huge increase in reports of domestic violence incidents.

Concerns have been raised after it was revealed that detection rates for sex offences are down from 21.5 per cent in 2018 to just 10.6 per cent in 2021.

Meanwhile, an increase of reports of domestic abuse is recorded in figures for Operation Faoiseamh, the name given to Garda operations in the area.

No regional breakdown for the numbers of reports from Limerick is available but overall there has been a ten per cent hike in reports to Gardaí over the last year, with investigations carried out into almost 50,000 domestic abuse cases.

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Verena Tarpey of Rape Crisis Midwest said the figures nationally correspond with what they have seen on the ground over the last year.

She told the Limerick Post that it seems the restrictions associated with the pandemic have increased the likelihood of domestic tensions coming to a head.

“These figures bear out what we have experienced. We have seen a  year-on-year increase in calls to our helpline of around 20 per cent. People have been spending a lot more time together in their homes.

“There is also a lot more awareness out there around the issue of domestic abuse and the supports available and hopefully, more people will come to us to find the supports they need.”

“It’s too early to analyse or give any precise reason why detection rates have fallen for a particular year in the Limerick region.

“This figure cannot be viewed in isolation due to the dynamic of Covid-19. Sexual violence cases are often multi-layered and complex, taking many years to prosecute. It may be the case that personnel were engaged in a particular complex case and the constrains of Covid added to this.”

In relation to the fall-off in detection rates, a Garda spokesperson said: “Particular incidents, such as sexual offences, can involve very complex and lengthy investigations. This means it can take many months from the time an incident is first reported for the crime to be fully investigated and for a charge to be directed.

“There can be delays in the reporting of these incidents, including very lengthy, historical delays, and there can be genuine concern by injured parties in initially reporting and subsequently supporting and engaging with the criminal investigation.”