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Irish violent crime and robberies rates increased by almost 50% last year.

Shocking new figures released by the Irish Central Statistics Office in Dublin show the number of robberies against the person rose from 1,310 in 2009 to 1,942 last year, which is a jump of 48%.

"Robbery is a particularly serious crime for victims," Maeve Ryan, service coordinator of Crime Victims Helpline, told the press on Monday.

"From people calling us, we are very conscious of the effect it can have on people, not just in the short term, but in the medium-term and sometimes the long-term."

The government opposition party Fine Gael justice spokesman Alan Shatter said he believed there was a direct link between the crime and the economic crisis.

"With the economy in crisis and there having been a complete absence of leadership in tackling crime for the last two years, unscrupulous criminals will inevitably target vulnerable people. Robbery from the person is a violent act and results in grave trauma for the innocent victim involved."

Shatter added that cuts in Irish police force numbers were also to balme. "Fianna Fail claim in their election literature they have increased the number of police to 14,500 but fail to mention they intend to reduce police numbers to 13,000 in their four-year plan."