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Written Answers - Crime Levels

Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 765 No. 3

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 374.  Deputy Anne Ferris Information on Anne Ferris Zoom on Anne Ferris  asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  if he is aware of any cases where the Judge has considered racial motivation as an aggravating factor at sentencing; if he will provide data on the number of such cases per year over the last ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [23850/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Deputy will be aware that judges are independent in the matter of sentencing as they are in other matters concerning the exercise of judicial functions, subject only to the Constitution and the law. The decision reached in any case or the sentence imposed, including the factors taken into account, are matters for the presiding judge. Statistics on reports of racially motivated crime are collated by the Central Statistics Office and are available on the website of the Office for the Promotion of Migrant Integration. Statistics on the number of complaints to the Garda Síochána Ombudsman Com[441]mission, alleging discrimination on the grounds of race and/or religion and on cases taken under the race ground of the Employment Equality and Equal Status Acts are also available on that website.

The Deputy may also be aware of the Irish Sentencing Information System or “ISIS” which is an initiative of the judiciary and is an electronic system designed to gather information about the range of sentences and other penalties that have been imposed for particular types of offences across court jurisdictions. The website became operational as a pilot in August 2010 and includes statistics on sentencing, synopses of relevant court judgments and access to a database on actual sentences imposed in various crimes and cases. I consider the website has the potential in time to be a valuable tool not only members of the judiciary but also for lawyers, researchers and those of us concerned with the needs of victims and their families. I understand that ISIS will be evaluated after it has been operating for some time and I will arrange to draw this issue to the attention of the ISIS Steering Committee in that context.

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