The number of murders, robberies, hijackings and extortion cases in Ireland over the last year has risen, according to the Central Statistics Office.

In the first three months of the year there were 16 murders in Ireland. That is one more than from the same period last year. However, death threats soared by more than 60 percent.

Numbers for robbery, extortion and hijacking offences have risen by almost 25 percent. The counts of burglary, theft and offences such as the handling stolen property have also increased slightly.

Happily the figures show that there was a drop in weapons and explosive offenses and shootings are down by 30 percent.

These results reflect a crackdown by the police on criminal gangs.

Drug importation is down by half, as is drug dealing. On the other hand, the number of people caught cultivating their own drugs jumped up by 20 percent.

Justice Minister Dermot Ahern said that the result he was most pleased about was sexual offenses, which dropped by 5.8 percent.

The Minister added that he also welcomed the drop in drug related crime, but he was very concerned about the predominance of headshops, who sell legal highs, and their increasing presence on Irish high streets.