THE NUMBER of sexual offences reported in Limerick in 2015 was at one of its highest rates in recent years, according to new crime statistics.
Limerick Garda Division figures published by Limerick Regeneration show that there were 116 reports of sexual offences in 2015. This is a 73% increase on the rate in 2014, when there were 67 reported cases.
The progress report on the Limerick Regeneration Framework Implementation Plan gave an overview of serious crime in the city and county, since the programme commenced in 2007. In 2007, there were 86 reports of sexual offences.
In 2008, there were also 86 reports; 83 in 2009; 111 in 2010; 130 in 2011; 152 in 2012; and 87 in 2013, the report shows.
There were 14,738 reported crimes in 2007, which saw a significant 17% decrease in 2015, with 12,208 reports.
However, Rape Crisis Mid-West director, Miriam Duffy told the Limerick Leader that the “vast majority” of people affected by sexual assault and rape “will never report” incidents.
In 2011, around 10% of clients were reporting to the gardaí or to authorities. Now, she said, this has risen to around 25%.
She said that the increase in people reporting crimes is a result of a “combination of things.
“It is probably down to all the hard work that we have been doing on raising awareness of the issues. But I also think the gardaí have been working towards improving the garda response to victims, as well. And that is having an impact as well.
“Even though there has been an increase, from our knowledge, of the people who are reporting, there is still a high percentage that don’t. And that is for all kinds of reasons.”
Rape Crisis Mid-West deals with men and women of all ages. Children under the age of 14 are referred onto HSE, Túsla or CARI.
Around 20% of the clients are men.
“It affects all ages, definitely. We see survivors of childhood abuse, who come to us in their 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s. We also see recent rapes and sexual assaults. And that could be any age.
“Our focus is working with people who come to us, whether they want to report or not. There is no pressure on anybody who wants to come to a rape crisis centre to report, at all. And a huge percentage of people, around 70% to 75%, will never report.
She added that one person reporting to her service is “always too many”.
“And very often, people who experience rape or sexual assault can come to terms with it themselves, or they are traumatised,” she explained.
Two weeks ago, Gardaí commenced an investigation into an alleged sexual assault on a 17-year-old girl during what was billed as “Munster’s biggest disco for third year and transition year students”.
A garda spokesman confirmed to the Limerick Leader that they had spoken with the teenager following the alleged incident which is said to have taken place at Limerick Racecourse.
Crime figures for 2016 have yet to be released.