The number of murders in Ireland rose by 36.4% over the 12-month period up to the end of March, according to the latest official figures.

The increase in murders, from 44 to 60, drove the overall figure for homicides up by 22.5%, according to the figures from the Central Statistics Office.

The figures also show a 6.3% rise in the number of kidnappings, with 19 recorded during the 12 months to March.

The new figure was driven by a 106% increase in the number of abductions of children under the age of 16.

The number of sexual offences dropped by 5.3% during the same period, with 1,947 offences recorded in the year up to the end of March.

Overall, there were drops in ten of 14 offence groups for which figures were produced.

Acting Garda Commissioner Noirín O'Sullivan said the drop demonstrated "the continuing hard work and dedication of members of An Garda Síochána" and that it could not have been achieved without partnership with communities.

She said that while the rise in homicides was not attributable to organised crime, it was a concern.

The number of dangerous or negligent acts dropped 11.6% annually.

Ms O'Sullivan said this reduction was largely due to a fall in dangerous driving over the alcohol limit.

There was a 6.1% reduction in the number of attempts or threats to murder, assaults, harassments and related offences.

The number of burglaries and related offences dropped 1.4% during the period, and robbery, extortion and hijacking offences were down 0.5%.

There were falls of 7.9% in the number of damage to property and to the environment offences and 8.7% in public order and other social code offences, respectively.

Controlled drug offences were up 0.9%.

Overall, the CSO breaks crime figures into 15 groups and reports against them accordingly.