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Saturday 24 August 2019

'People on bail commit one-in-seven homicides', says CSO

Fianna Fail’s Jim O’Callaghan
Fianna Fail’s Jim O’Callaghan

One-in-seven murder and manslaughter cases are committed by people on bail, according to the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

Figures released by the Government agency showed that 10 of last year's 74 homicides were committed by people awaiting trial for other offences.

The CSO said that people on bail were last year linked to more than 24,000 offences, or 11.3pc of the total.

These included 6,871 thefts and 274 robberies.

Criminals linked to other crimes were considered responsible for 5,233 public order offences, 1,894 drug offences and 715 incidents of assaults and threatening behaviour.

While crime levels fell between 2011 and 2016, the proportion of offences committed by those on bail grew - from 9pc in 2011 to 13pc in 2017.

The CSO said that people on bail are believed to be responsible for one-in-five firearm and explosive offences and one-in-six public order offences.

In contrast, people already on bail are believed to be responsible for just 0.3pc of sexual offences and 6.4pc of burglaries.

Concerns

The CSO said all official crime figures were published "under reservation" because there remained ongoing concerns about the quality of the data.

A spokesperson for Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said he was awaiting "robust statistics" in order to analyse the full impact of changes to bail laws introduced in 2017.

However, Fianna Fail justice spokesperson Jim O'Callaghan said the latest figures showed that a significant amount of serious crime continued to be committed by people on bail.

"Unfortunately, the current bail laws are not strong enough and need to be reformed," Mr O'Callaghan said.

He said legislation put forward by Fianna Fail last year to strengthen bail laws was voted down by the Government and some opposition parties.

"Unless there is political recognition of this problem, we will continue to see a significant percentage of crime committed by people out on bail," he added.

"The Government needs to act now to deal with this continuing and clear problem."

Over the past five years, more than 125,000 crimes have been identified where the suspect or offender was on bail. These include 40 homicides and 120 sexual offences.

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