24% INCREASE IN TOURIST CRIME VICTIMS SEEKING SUPPORT IN 2017

ITAS, the Irish Tourist Assistance Service revealed statistics on tourist crime today at their annual meeting in the Mansion House, Dublin.

Demand for support offered by the Irish Tourist Assistance Service was at its highest level since the service commenced, with an increasing number of visitors to Ireland seeking assistance in the aftermath of crime and other traumatic events.

These figures were revealed during the launch of ITAS’ Annual Report which showed the service had offered support and assistance to nearly 900 people who had fallen victim to crime and other traumatic events during their visit to Ireland in 2017. The most common crime perpetrated against tourists was theft from person (39% of referrals). There was an increase in referral of theft from cars (11% of referrals) while a small number of tourists (15) were referred after violent crime such as aggravated theft, assault, sexual assault and robbery.

There were also 13 cases of on-line fraud with tourists paying large deposits for accommodation, only to arrive and find no valid reservations have been made. Fraudsters have taken online payment for accommodation which they do not own and even for properties which do not exist.

The Gardaí continued to refer the majority of cases (86%) to the service, in particular Pearse Street Garda station from which ITAS operates an office 7 days a week.  This central location ensures that tourists have immediate access to support after reporting an incident.

Over 40% of tourist crimes occurred on the streets of Dublin City Centre. Crimes also occurred when tourists were sightseeing, shopping and socialising. The majority of crimes took place between the hours of 2-6pm in the capital, with victims tending to be female aged between 17-25 years.

The service assisted tourists from 48 countries around the world. German nationals made up the largest category assisted. This was followed by French, American, Italian, British and Spanish tourists.

Commenting at the event, Kevin McPartlan, Chairman of ITAS stated: “The aim of the Service is to provide visitors who are victims of crime with immediate support and information in order to make a positive difference to their experience. In 2017, 88% of tourists assisted by ITAS continued with their holiday plans. I would like to thank the organisations and agencies who support ITAS. This support enhances Ireland’s international reputation as a caring and hospitable nation and reinforces visitors’ motives for choosing Ireland as a holiday destination. The invaluable support that ITAS offers visitors who require its services, is a vital resource to the sector and one that requires further financial input for its future viability”.

Lisa Kennedy, Chief Executive of ITAS welcomed the Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act.

“The legislation is a significant step for victims of crime and for the first time in Irish law victims have a legal right to information, support and protection. Most victims will not be aware of these rights so informing them is essential. We call on the government to ensure that those engaging with victims within the criminal justice system are fully trained to do so. We also call for increased resources for organisations supporting victims as the potential for increased demand is significant”.