Crime and Victimisation Surveys provide a useful supplement to official crime statistics because they can be used to estimate the 'dark figure' of crime i.e. those crimes which are not reported to the police and, therefore, not recorded in the official crime statistics. In 1996, the Garda Research Unit commissioned the Economic and Social Research Institute (ESRI) to conduct a survey on 'Victims of Recorded Crime in Ireland' which drew on Garda records from November 1994 to October 1995. The results of this are published in Watson, D. (2000) Victims of Recorded Crime in Ireland: Results from the 1996 Survey. ESRI/ Oak Tree Press. Before this, the last large scale survey of Crime and Victimisation patterns in Ireland was carried out in the early 1980s. Currently, the Central Statistics Office (CSO) examine Crime and Victimisation rates in Ireland as part of their Quarterly National Household Surveys (QNHS). These have been conducted in 1998, 2003 and most recently, in 2006.
In 2006, the CSO surveyed 39,000 households as part of the QNHS. This sample was then mathematically adjusted to be representative of the population of the Republic of Ireland as a whole. For more information on this procedure, please view the Steel Report on Sample Design and Estimation Procedures (Word, 144KB). The CSO found that roughly 4.6% had been a victim of crime in the previous 12 months. While the majority of these crimes were reported to An Garda Síochána, approximately 30% of burglaries, 40% of thefts and 48% of assaults were not reported to the Gardaí. It is important to note that domestic and sexual assaults were not among the crimes covered by the survey. The Central Statistics Office suggest that the extent to which individuals report criminal behaviour is related to the perceived seriousness of the offence, the financial loss incurred, insurance purposes and the victim's perception of the likely outcome of the investigation.
With regard to the prevalence rates of criminal behaviour, the CSO Crime and Victimisation surveys indicate that younger adults, in particular, males between the ages of 18-24 years, are most at risk of becoming a victim of crime (excluding domestic and sexual assaults). Interestingly, it is older adults and females who tend to fear becoming a victim of crime more so than younger males. For example, 41.5% of females would feel unsafe or very unsafe walking alone in their area after dark compared to 10.9% of males. Similarly, 45.2% of adults aged 65 years and above state that they would feel unsafe or very unsafe walking around their neighbourhood alone after dark. Further, those living in an urban location, particularly Dublin, appear to be at a greater risk of experiencing criminal behaviour than those living in rural locations.
The next National Crime and Victimisation Survey scheduled to take place in Ireland will be conducted by the Central Statistics Office in 2009.
It may be useful to compare the crime and victimisation rates recorded by the CSO with the correlating figures for England, Wales and other European countries. These figures can be found in the British Crime Survey (BCS), carried out by the Research, Development and Statistics Directorate of the Home Office and the European Union International Crime and Safety Survey (EU ICS). The most recent results of the BCS are contained in the report Crime in England and Wales 2006/07 (PDF, 1.78 MB). The BCS, like the CSO survey, recorded different reporting rates for different crimes. Taken in aggregate, the BCS indicates that 59% of all comparable crime in England and Wales is not reported to the police and does not become known to them in any other way. Similar data is available in the European context from the EU ICS. The EU ICS consists of a series of sample surveys carried out in the 15 'pre-2004 enlargement' EU member states plus Poland, Hungary and Estonia. Ireland was included in the 2005 EU ICS. The survey is mainly concerned with people's experiences with crime and law enforcement in their respective countries. The results of the survey are summarised in a comparative work entitled The Burden of Crime in the EU (PDF, 1.13 MB).
The 2005 EU ICS formed a significant part of the 2004-2005 sweep of the International Crime Victims Survey. The ICVS is the most comprehensive instrument yet developed to monitor crime rates, perception of crime and attitudes towards the criminal justice system in a comparative, international perspective. The ICVS framework offers a level of standardisation and international comparability unavailable in localised studies such as the CSO Crime and Victimisation Survey or the British Crime Survey. The 2004-2005 sweep presents data from 30 countries and 33 cities. A summary of these results is available in Crime Victimisation in International Perspective (PDF, 2.8 MB)
In addition to the QNHS, the annual Garda Public Attitudes Survey provides an alternative source of information regarding the 'dark figure' of unreported crime in Ireland. In 2006, the Garda Public Attitudes Survey found that of those who have been victims of crime, 14% did not report the most recent crime to the Gardaí. The results of the Garda Public Attitudes Surveys from 2002-2006 can be found on the Garda Síochána website.
For more information on Irish Crime and Victimisation Surveys, please visit the website of the Central Statistics Office (http://www.cso.ie) and/or see below for some statistics about crime and victimisation rates in Ireland drawn from the results of the latest QNHS.
(Source: Central Statistics Office website)