Provisional crime statistics from An Garda Síochána show how the pandemic continued to impact crime last year, with property crimes and robberies down in 2021, while levels of cyber crime soared.

Reported burglary figures for example, fell in 2020 and again in 2021.

Last year, reported residential burglary was down by 18% compared with 2020 and burglary occurring elsewhere fell by 27%.

Reports of 'Theft from a Person' were down by 31% on 2020 levels, while reports of 'Robbery from a Person', which involves a level of threat or violence were down by 22%.

In contrast cyber crime rates increased substantially.

In 2021, reported Fraud Offences climbed by 111% on 2020 levels.

These figures include crimes such as Account take Over fraud, Card not Present Fraud, Investment Fraud, Romance Fraud and Phishing/Vishing/ Smishing Frauds.

Reports of Blackmail or Extortion also increased by 71%.

"If we looked at the crime stats, maybe ten years ago, there would be very little mention of anything in relation to cyber crime," Brian Honan, who is a member of the Advisory Group on Internet Security to Europol's Cyber Crime Centre and CEO BH Consulting, told RTÉ News.

"What we are seeing is an environment where cyber criminals are thriving. We have people who have been forced to go online, be that remote working, in lockdown, and it is a very high anxiety time, people are under a lot of stress and pressure, and criminals are taking advantage of that."

"This year's stats clearly show that cyber crime is becoming a major threat, not just to individuals... but also to businesses," Mr Honan said.

Another area which saw an increase in reported cases was sexual crime.

According to An Garda Síochána's figures, reported Sexual Offences have been increasing since early 2015 and although they plateaued in 2020, an upward trend resumed in 2021.

There was a 10% increase in reported sexual offences to November last year.

Reported sexual assaults were up by 18% in 2021 compared with 2020, reported rapes increased by 10% and there was an 8% increase in reported child pornography offences.

Gardaí have said that this may reflect a change in reporting behaviour with victims now increasingly likely to report sexual crime as well efforts by the force to improve its data recording.

The Dublin Rape Crisis Centre is also seeing more people availing of its services, including its justice accompaniment service, which supports victims in reporting sexual crimes and seeing their cases progress through the Irish justice system.

"We are seeing more people coming to us. More people thought about sexual abuse that had happened them in the past during the pandemic, they are now reporting (it)," Noeline Blackwell, CEO of the Dublin Rape Crisis Centre told RTÉ News.

Ms Blackwell added that there was "more understanding" among victims that what had happened to them was "not their fault, it's a crime and the way you deal with crime is to report it to the gardaí".

In 2020 reported crimes against the person plateaued following a gradual rise over the previous 3 years. However, levels increased again last year by 4%.

Murder, manslaughter and attempted murder figures were all down in 2021, compared with 2020, but there was an increase in reports of human trafficking offences, assaults and harassment, stalking and threats.

2021 saw a decrease of 2% in Total Public Order Offences compared with 2020.

While on the roads, the number of fatal and serious traffic incidents that occurred in 2021 were down by 11% and 2% respectively, compared with the year before.