Galway sex crimes double in 7 years

By Erika Sassone

THE number of sexual offences recorded across Co Galway has increased dramatically in the last seven years, new figures reveal.

Despite a dip in 2020, overall recorded sexual offences increased from 260 in 2014 to 479 in 2019 in the Galway Garda Division, according official Garda crime data recorded by the Central Statistics Office (CSO).

The total dropped to 380 for 2020. While there is no official explanation for the drop, it is likely that the Covid-19 pandemic was a contributory factor.

Green Party Councillor Martina O’Connor described the rise in rapes and sexual assaults as “distressing”.

Gardai confirmed that they had established a high powered task- force for the Galway Division to specfically target these crimes.

The Divisional Protective Services Unit (DPSU) is headed by Garda Inspector Peter Conlon.

Figures analysed by the Galway Pulse in a data journalism investigation show:

• Rape and sexual assaults more than doubled, up from 82 to 166 between 2014 and 2019, but dropped to 114 recorded cases in 2020.

• Recorded sexual offences rose from 91 to 191 across the same period, before dropping to 139 cases in 2020.

• Harassment offences increased by 20 per cent, from 78 to 102 cases between 2014 and 2020.

• Other sexual offences increased from a low base of nine cases in 2014 to 25 cases in 2020.

Councillor O’Connor said she wanted to see more sexual consent education in schools.

“As a survivor myself of sexual offences it pains me deeply to hear of rising reports.

“Supporting reporting and prosecution of these crimes is essential to provide justice for survivors,” she added.

Insp Conlon said the Garda unit was exclusively dealing with the investigation of all sexual crime and crimes against children.

The Unit is working closely with a number of agencies including the Galway Rape Crisis Centre, TUSLA, the child and family agency, and the Sexual Assault Treatment Unit (SATU), he said.

“When we are collaborating with other agencies, the one thing that we all agree on is that every action is taken. It’s always in the best interests of the victim,” he added.

Meanwhile, overall crime in Galway City and County is down, though specific categories are showing an increase.

All recorded crime in the Garda Division dropped by 12 per cent, from 7,964 offences in 2019 to 6,982 offences in 2020.

Recorded offences in the City dropped 20 per cent in 2020, down from 4,118 to 3,312. In Salthill, overall recorded crime increased marginally from 595 to 639 offences in 2020.

The increase in Salthill was driven by public order offences (up 34 per cent); assault and violence (up 8 per cent); while drugs offences nearly doubled, up from 42 recorded offences in 2019 to 75 in 2020

For more Galway Pulse stories  click here.

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