‘Court Prosecutions, Conviction and Out of Court Disposals Statistics for Northern Ireland, 2016’ published today

Date published: 28 June 2017

The Department of Justice (DOJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin 16/2017 ‘Court Prosecutions, Convictions and Out of Court Disposals Statistics for Northern Ireland, 2016’. It is an Official Statistics Publication.

The report is broken down by for prosecutions and convictions by Court Type; gender and age; and disposal and offence category.  Similar disaggregation has been applied in relation to out of court disposals data.  The key findings were as follows:

Prosecutions and convictions

The number of prosecutions disposed at Crown Court[1] increased 43.4% from 1,312 in 2015 to 1,882 in 2016, reversing the downward trend seen in the years from 2014 to 2015.The number of prosecutions at magistrates’ courts fell from 28,004 in 2015 to 25,767 in 2016, a fall of 8.0%.

In 2016, 83.0% (22,956) of prosecutions in all courts resulted in a conviction.This compares with 2015 when 83.2% (24,379) of prosecutions in all courts resulted in a conviction.

The majority, 83.0% (22,937), of prosecutions completed at all courts in 2016, were cases where the defendant was male.In Crown Court, 89.4% (1,682) of prosecutions were against males. In magistrates’ courts, 82.5% (21,255) were against males.

Persons in the 18 – 24 year old age band accounted for the most prosecutions in court in 2016. They made up 25.9% (7,151) of all prosecutions at courts in Northern Ireland and 26.2% (6,019) of those convicted at all courts in 2016.

Of all offence categories, motoring offences made up the largest proportion of prosecutions at all courts: 11,060 (40.0% of all prosecutions) in 2016.Of all offence categories, drugs offences had the highest conviction rate at all courts, at 94.0% (1,882).

Out of court disposals

A total of 2,898 penalty notices for disorder (PNDs) were issued in 2016, 76.7% of which were to males. Miscellaneous crimes against society constituted the largest proportion of PNDs issued, with 34.6% (1,004) of all PNDs issued for offences in this category. 

The number of out of court, diversionary disposals recorded against individuals’ criminal records in 2016 was 5,335, a fall of 10.2% from 5,940 in 2015.Most diversionary disposals were dealt with by way of caution, with 80.7% (4,306) of all diversionary disposals dealt with in this way.

Of all those who received a diversionary disposal in 2016, most were in the younger age categories, with 52.2% (2,784) of all diversionary disposals handed out to the under 25 year old age group.

In 2016, 74.5% (3,972) of all diversionary disposals were handed down to males.

Of all diversionary disposals, 22.2% (1,182) were handed down for drug offences and a further 21.4% (1,140) were for violence against the person offences.

[1] The introduction of new rules in May 2015 in relation to legal aid remuneration resulted in Counsel and a number of solicitors withdrawing their representation from a range of Crown Court cases. This affected defendants’ access to legally aided representation and may have had an impact on disposals and delay within the Crown Court process during the period. The dispute ended on 11th February 2016.

Notes to editors: 

This bulletin presents prosecutions and convictions data for the year 2016 for all courts, magistrates’ courts and the Crown Court, which are disaggregated by age and gender of defendant, as well as details of out of court disposals completed during 2016. Data for the youth court, a special magistrates’ court which deals with proceedings against juveniles between the ages of 10 and 17, are included with those for the magistrates’ courts. The statistical coverage is restricted to those criminal prosecutions in which the PSNI or Harbour Police were involved and breaches of community sentences that resulted in new prosecutions being brought by the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI). Prosecutions brought by government departments, public bodies and private individuals are not included.

The data used in this bulletin were taken from the Causeway Data Sharing Mechanism (DSM1). They were extracted primarily based on records contained on the Criminal Records Viewer (CRV). The CRV is held on Causeway and utilises data which originated in the PSNI, PPS and from Northern Ireland Courts and Tribunals Service. Causeway is an interconnected information system, launched as a joint undertaking by the Criminal Justice Organisations (CJOs) in Northern Ireland.

Historically, prior to 2006, data came from the PSNI’s Integrated Crime Information System (ICIS) and, prior to 2000, from manual returns collected at court and included information on prosecutions as well as convictions.  For the period from 2006 – 2009, data were taken from the Criminal Records Viewer (CRV) which contains only data on convictions, so it was not possible to compile information on prosecutions for the period 2007 – 2009. From 2009 onwards, data have been sourced from the Causeway Data Sharing Mechanism (DSM1) and include prosecutions, convictions and out of court disposals. It is envisaged that the next publication in this series, containing data for 2017, will be available in early summer 2018.   

Official Statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.  They undergo regular quality assurance reviews to ensure that they meet customer needs and are produced free from any political interference.  They are also subject to restrictions in terms of pre-release access. 

View the bulletin from this website or Analytical Services Group, Financial Services Division, Laganside House, Oxford Street, Belfast BT1 3LA

Email statistics.research@justice-ni.x.gsi.gov.uk

Press queries about this publication should be directed to the DOJ Press Office on telephone number 028 9052 6444.

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