Court Prosecutions, Convictions and Out of Court Disposals Statistics for Northern Ireland, 2018

Date published: 03 June 2019

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published the Research and Statistical Bulletin ‘Court Prosecutions, Convictions and Out of Court Disposals Statistics for Northern Ireland, 2018’. It is an Official Statistics Publication.

This bulletin presents data on 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.  .


In general, the overall picture is that the number of cases dealt with at Crown Court has declined since 2017, though the numbers dealt with at magistrates’ courts has risen slightly from last year’s total.  The number of cases dealt with by way of out of court disposals have also decreased from 2017. 


  • The number of prosecutions disposed at Crown Court  in 2018 was 1,392, a 12.3% decrease from 1,587 in 2017.  However, the number of prosecutions at magistrates’ courts rose 4.3% from 26,767 in 2017 to 27,916 in 2018.
  • In 2018, 85.0% (24,921) of prosecutions in all courts resulted in a conviction, up from, 83.3% (23,630) in 2017. 
  • The majority, 81.9% (24,017), of prosecutions completed at all courts in 2018, were cases where the defendant was male (Crown Court, 88.9% (1,238) and magistrates’ courts, 81.6% (22,779)).
  • Persons in the 30 – 39 year old age band made up 27.7% (8,109) of all prosecutions at courts and 27.7% (6,908) of those convicted at all courts in 2018, more defendants than in any other age band.
  • Of all offence categories, motoring offences made up the largest proportion of prosecutions at all courts: 13,011 (44.4% of all prosecutions) in 2018.  Of all offence categories, drugs offences had the highest conviction rate at all courts, at 94.0% (2,257). 
  • Monetary penalties were the most frequently utilised disposal at all courts in 2018, with 56.6% (14,097) of all convictions having this type of disposal as their primary outcome. A custodial outcome was imposed in 12.0% (3,001) of cases at all courts in 2018.


  • A total of 1,602 Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) were issued in 2018, 79.6% of which were to males. Public Order offences constituted the largest proportion of PNDs issued, with 42.2% (676) of all PNDs issued for offences in this category. 
  • The number of out of court, diversionary disposals recorded against individuals’ criminal records in 2018 was 4,359, a fall of 7.6% from 4,715 in 2017.  Most diversionary disposals were dealt with by way of caution, with 77.8% (3,392) of all diversionary disposals dealt with in this way. 
  • Of all those who received a diversionary disposal in 2018, most were in the younger age categories, with 52.2% (2,277) of all diversionary disposals handed out to the under 25 year old age group.
  • In 2018, 75.8% (3,306) of all diversionary disposals were handed down to males.  
  • Of all diversionary disposals, 22.8% (996) were handed down for drug offences and a further 22.4% (975) were for violence against the person offences.

Notes to editors: 

1.This bulletin presents prosecutions and convictions data for the year 2018 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 2018. 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 brought to court by the Public Prosecution Service on behalf of the PSNI, the National Crime Agency, the Airport Constabulary or Harbour Police in Northern Ireland and breaches of community sentences brought by the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI). Prosecutions brought by government departments, public bodies and private individuals are not included.

2.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.

3.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 2019, will be available in early summer 2020.   

 4.Official Statistics are produced in accordance with the Code of Practice for 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. 

 5.The bulletin will be available in PDF format from either the DoJ web-site ( or Analytical Services Group, Financial Services Division, Block B, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast BT4 3SG


6.All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer on: 028 9037 8110.

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