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Crime and Justice in the Republic of Ireland

NCJ Number
European Journal of Criminology Volume: 2 Issue: 1 Dated: January 2005 Pages: 99-131
Ian O'Donnell
Date Published
January 2005
33 pages
This article reviews the state of criminological knowledge in the Republic of Ireland and offers an overview of crime and justice trends in the country.
In the Republic of Ireland the field of criminology is vastly underdeveloped and official statistics are deficient and generally appear years in arrears. In this environment, it is unsurprising to find that the criminal justice system has yet to institute a culture of performance management and evaluation. A brief history of crime and justice in Ireland illustrates how a moral panic that ensued after a couple of highly publicized murders in the 1990's resulted in the most expensive prison development project in the history of the state. Following this history, the author presents an interpretation of trends in crime and punishment that can be gleaned from the existing official data. The analysis is based on crimes that have been reported to, and recorded by, the police; many gaps are present in the data. A snapshot of crime in 2002 is presented for each crime category, such as murder, assault, theft, drugs, and arson. The largest indictable/headline offense category in each year analyzed was burglary; in 2002, burglary accounted for nearly one-quarter of all headline crimes. The rate of imprisonment skyrocketed during the period under analysis; in 2002, there were 45 percent more prisoners and 43 percent more prison officers than there had been in 1992. The final section in the article reviews key publications that appeared in Ireland during the 5-year period 2000 through 2004. These publications take on topics such as sexual violence statistics, the culture of control in Ireland, and torture. In closing the author ponders some of the pressures the criminal justice system is likely to experience by the end of the decade, including the imposition of more legislative control over criminal sentencing. Tables, figures, references