Crime Statistics in Ireland
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A Guide To Crime Statistics in Ireland – 2021

Key Insights

  • Ireland sits in the middle of the world crime index rankings with a crime index value of 45.51.  For reference, Qatar and Venezuela possess the lowest and highest crime indexes with values of 12.13 and 83.76 respectively.
  • From 2010 to 2015, Ireland’s crime rate saw a near 45% decrease going from 1.21 per 100,000 people to 0.67 per 100,000 people.  Following this, from 2015 to 2018 the crime rate climbed, going from 0.67 per 100,000 people to 0.87 per 100,000 people.
  • These changes culminated in almost a 30% increase in crime overall.
  • Recently for 2019 and 2020, many forms of crime saw an extreme decrease as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The crimes that saw the highest decrease between 2019 and 2020 were burglary and similar offenses with a decrease of 34.7%.
  • Though the majority of crimes saw a decrease from 2019 to 2020, homicides, kidnappings, drug offenses, and weapon offenses all saw slight increases.
  • The crimes with the highest number of occurrences were theft and related offenses with a total of 51,474 cases in 2020.  Alternatively, the crimes with the lowest number of occurrences were homicide and related offenses with a total of 73 cases in 2020
  • In 2020 84.2% of all murder or manslaughter victims were males while 15.8% were females.  The majority of homicide offenses were committed by individuals between the ages of 30 and 44.
  • 79.2% of all sexual violence victims were females and among these victims, roughly 62% were below the age of 18 at the time of the incident. Out of all the sexual violence victims in Ireland over half were 30 years old or older at the time of reporting a case.
  • Among Ireland’s criminals, the highest number of re-offenders was recorded among those below the age of 21, with a reoffending rate of 70.4%

Crime is present in all parts of the world regardless of a country’s development status or law enforcement capabilities.  However, in certain areas, crime rates can be significantly higher due to an abundance of crime opportunities, a lack of law enforcement, and other select factors.

In the case of Ireland, there is an abundance of data available for the purpose of in-depth analysis.  By examining this data it is possible to realize certain trends and generally gain a better understanding of crime in Ireland along with its causes and its effects on the population.

Now, before one dives into national statistics, it’s worth noting that Ireland sits in the middle of the worldwide crime index rankings at 67 out of 137.  With a crime index of 45.51 for 2021, crimes do occur in the Irish State but crime is certainly not as rampant as in other countries.

To provide a better grasp of its position on the international rankings, the figure below depicts Ireland’s crime index alongside other countries and their respective crime indexes:

Crime Index by Country

With a crime index of 83.76, Venezuela possesses the highest level of crime out of the 137 countries that make up the crime ranking index.  In contrast, Qatar and Taiwan have some of the lowest crime indexes with values of 12.13 and 15.46 respectively.

These two countries can generally be used as the maximum and minimum real-world examples for the world crime index rankings. Among neighboring countries in Europe, Ireland also ranks somewhere in the middle of the pack.

Crime Index by Country, Europe

With a crime index value of 26.22, Denmark has one of the lowest crime rates in Europe.  Alternatively, France sits on the high end of the spectrum, having a crime index value of about 52.

Ultimately, on both the global and regional scale, Ireland’s crime is relatively mild.  Now that a standard of comparison has been established, one can better understand Ireland’s crime data.  

An Overview of Crime in Ireland

In recent years, Ireland’s crime rate saw a notable decrease between 2015 and 2018 going from 1.21 to 0.67.  Following this decrease, however, crime once again saw a significant rise with roughly 9,200 more reported crimes in the following year.

Interestingly enough, the crimes that showed the highest increases from 2020 to 2021 were sexual offenses and fraud/deception.  The reason behind this increase is likely the isolation and increased online activity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Fortunately, after this significant spike, other forms of crime in Ireland began to decrease from the fourth quarter of 2020 to the second quarter of 2021.  As evidenced by the figure below, this decrease began with a 7.25% drop in crime incidents from 2019 to 2020.

Number of Crimes Committed by Year

Following this, crime continued to fall by 12.3% from 2020 to the second quarter of the current year.  However, this figure is expected to change as crimes are still expected to occur later in the year.

In its current state, Ireland is relatively safe due to the decrease in crimes caused by the recent pandemic.  Despite this, specific forms of crime have seen some increases and in turn, this has given rise to various trends in crimes and the criminals that commit them.

Crime Trends in Ireland

In the country, the crimes that saw the highest rates of increase were homicides, weapons offenses, drug offenses, and kidnappings.

Crime Percentages for 2019 and 2020

Weapons offenses saw the highest change from 2019 to 2020, with a rate of change of roughly 14.9%.  The crimes that saw the second and third highest increases were homicides and drug offenses with rates of 14.1% and 9.1% respectively.

In 2020, the crimes with the highest number of occurrences were theft and similar offenses.  For this year, that trend remains the same with 46,800 cases of theft already being reported in the second quarter of 2021 alone.

Second to theft and similar offenses in terms of occurrence are public order offenses with 27,830 reported cases.  These crimes often have to do with violating public guidelines and general social boundaries.

Despite seeing the second-highest rate of increase, Ireland’s least-committed crimes are usually homicides and similar offenses.  In the previous year, there were only 76 reported cases of these crimes, this year the total is at 56 cases (thus far) for the second quarter of 2021.

Ireland actually holds the title for the 11th lowest homicide rate in all of Europe.  From a global perspective, the Irish State also ranks fairly well, having the 23rd lowest homicide rate all over the world.

To provide a physical reference for Ireland’s crime composition, the chart below has been drafted using data from the Central Statistics Office. 

Ireland's Crime Composition 2020

Following theft in terms of prevalence in Ireland is public disorder and social code offenses.  A large majority of these cases are made up of individuals who were arrested for being intoxicated in public.

This is to be expected as many Irish citizens consume alcohol on a regular basis.  According to the Healthy Ireland survey, over half of all drinkers in the country drink alcohol at least once a week.

The third most prevalent crime in Ireland for 2020 was found to be drug offenses, with a prevalence rate of 10.9%.  

Generally speaking, the use of controlled drugs in Ireland is not in and of itself a crime. However, if an individual is in possession of a controlled drug without due authorization, they can then be arrested.  In many cases, offenders are often found in possession of controlled drugs for the purpose of selling to or supplying certain individuals.

As a result of the global health lockdowns throughout the previous year, many people spend large portions of their day online.  This opens up the opportunity for online scams as well as identity fraud and other online scams.

Seizing this opportunity, many criminals in Ireland have committed fraud and similar scams in order to steal financial assets from victims.  In just the second quarter of 2021, there were 11,253 reported cases of fraud and similar offenses.

Crime Percentages For 2020 and 2021

If we compare this figure to the previous year’s total for fraud and similar crimes, we see a 40.6% increase from 2020 to 2021.  Alternatively, this translates to a substantial difference of 3,248 cases.

This figure is actually the highest recorded percent increase for any type of crime in 2021.  The second-highest percent increase was seen in sexual offenses, with a much smaller increase of 7.5% or roughly 200 cases.

With that said, however, sexual offenses remain a significant problem in Ireland due to the effects they have on people.  Aside from scarring most victims, sexual offenses can be troubling since they are most prevalent among Ireland’s younger people.

Sexual Offenses in Ireland

In previous years, sexual violence crimes were relatively minor in occurrence compared to other forms of crime such as theft and drug use.  This continues to be the trend, with sexual violence crimes making up only 1.4% of all crimes in Ireland.

Sexual Offense Facts in Ireland

From current data, it is estimated that 79.2% of all sexual violence victims are female.  This is slightly lower than the values reported in 2017 and 2018, with values of 81% and 81.8% respectively.

The true issue with this form of crime lies in its prevalence in the younger population: one-fifth of all sexual violence in 2019 involved both a victim and offender below the age of 18.  With a recorded total of 3,340 cases for 2019, this amounts to roughly 690 occurrences.

Even more troubling is the fact that 5 in 6 sexual assault victims reported being below the age of 18 at the time of the incident.  Of the victims that came forward to report sexual violence, more than half were already 30 years old or older upon reporting the incident.

All of these findings point towards a serious lack of education and empowerment when it comes to dealing with sexual violence.  Recognizing this issue, many experts in the country have expressed the need to acknowledge sexual violence among children.

John Church, the chief executive for the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children, stated that schools should consider updating their relationships and sexuality education programs.

By educating children on topics like sexual violence and relationships, they will be better equipped to handle difficult situations.  Along with this, the stigma of shame surrounding victims of sexual violence may also be eliminated.  

Ireland’s Criminal Population

Ireland’s prison system is made up of 12 facilities that hold a combined population of about 3,802 people as of 2021.  If the number of detainees awaiting trial is also included, this number jumps to 4,230 people.

Of the 4,230 people currently contained in Ireland’s penal system, approximately 3.9% are female while 96.1% are male.  This means that a whopping 4,065 inmates are men and fewer than 170 are women.

Ireland's Prison Population by Gender

The highest prison population in Ireland was recorded in 2012 with a record-topping 4,318 inmates.  Given the rate of increase seen in previous years, there is a significant chance that the prison population may reach yet another record high.

Ireland's Prison Population

Many experts believe that the rising prison population in Ireland is due to the high re-offending rate seen among former inmates and violators.  

Criminal Re-Offending Rates

Criminal Re-Offending Statistics

Based on data gathered over the past few years 61.8% of criminals will end up committing a similar offense within 3 years.  At a much lower percentage, around 48% of offenders will re-offend within 1 year.

Among those who have been fined or incarcerated, young adults continue to be the most likely to re-offend.  Current data suggests that 70.4% of individuals below the age of 21 will re-offend within a year of being released.  

For comparison, the lowest re-offending rate was observed among individuals who were 50 years old or older. To help deal with juvenile crime and re-offending, the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) has employed various measures.

Chief among these measures is the implementation of various community projects that aim to help youths gain a sense of belonging within the community.  Along with this, the IYJS has also implemented rehabilitation programs and family interventions for juvenile re-offenders.

Only time will tell whether these measures will result in lower rates of juvenile re-offending and violations overall.  But, based on the decrease seen from 2017 to 2018, Ireland’s youth looks to be embracing the IYJS’s efforts to provide better moral guidance.

By focusing on juvenile youth specifically, Ireland is much less likely to see these young criminals grow into repeat offenders for more violent crimes.  In turn, this may very well produce a substantial decrease in future crimes.