First time Entrants to the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland 2015/16’ published today

Date published: 31 August 2017

The Department of Justice (DOJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin 26/2017 ‘‘First Time Entrants to the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland 2015/16’. It is an Official Statistics Publication.

The bulletin presents information on first time entrants (or, disposals relating to first offences) to the criminal justice system disaggregated by age, gender, offence category and disposal type for 2015/16.  The key findings were as follows:

Key findings

In 2015/16, a total of 29,083 offences were recorded as dealt with by conviction or diversion in the justice system in Northern Ireland. Of these, 8,848 were first offences and 20,235 were further offences.First offences constituted 30.4% of all offences in 2015/16. Of these first offences, 37.9% (3,354) were dealt with by way of diversionary disposal, compared to 62.1% (5,494) which were dealt with by conviction.

Of the 8,848 first time entrants to the criminal justice system in 2015/16, 11.0% (976) were in the 10 – 17 year old age group.First offences accounted for 38.0% of all instances where a conviction or diversion was issued to that age group (976 out of 2,568).

Similarly, 28.4% (2,517) of the first time entrants were by those in the 18 – 24 year old age group.First offences accounted for 30.8% of all instances where a conviction or diversion was issued to that age group (2,517 out of 8,178).

First offences accounted for 56.9% (3,354) of all instances where a diversionary disposal was issued in 2015/16.People in the 10 – 17 year old age group were most likely (90.2%, 880) to receive a diversion for a first offence.

Of all offences dealt with by conviction or diversion, 26.7% (6,334) by males[1] were first offences, compared to 46.9% (2,514) by females. Of all first offences dealt with by diversion or conviction, 71.6% were by males1, compared to 28.4% by females.

Just over half, 51.3% (4,536) of all first offences in 2015/16 were Motoring offences.Of all instances where a conviction or diversion was issued for offences in that category in 2015/16, 42.5% were for first offences.

Monetary disposals made up 50.0% (4,420) of all disposals for first offences in 2015/16. First offences accounted for 35.3% of all instances where a monetary penalty was imposed in relation to a conviction or diversion.However, of all instances where imprisonment was imposed as a penalty in 2015/16, first offences accounted for only 4.8% (130 out of 2,731).

56.9% (3,354) of all cases dealt with by diversion were for first offences.Of first offences dealt with by diversion, 79.4% (2,664) were dealt with by way of caution. However, while 57.7% of all cautions were for first offences, 87.4% (418) of all PPS ordered youth conference plans were for first offences.

[1]   Figures for Males also include organisations, transgender and gender not specified.

Notes to editors: 

This bulletin presents information on first time entrants (first offences) to the criminal justice system disaggregated by age, gender, offence category and disposal type for 2015/16. 

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.

Figures for first time entrants to the justice system in Northern Ireland, as reported in this bulletin, are based on those who have had a conviction at any time since 1960 and those who had either a conviction or a diversionary disposal since the implementation of the Causeway system DSM1, in December 2009. This means that the reported rate of first offences may be slightly higher than the actuality, as, in some cases, first offences would have been dealt with by means of diversionary disposal, information on which is not available prior to the introduction of DSM1.  However, any likely impact should lessen with the passing of time.  Reoffending statistics suggest that, in most crime categories, persons who commit a proven reoffence do so within one year.  As a result, the first year when it might be considered that the effect of diversions data being unavailable for the period prior to 2010 might be reduced, is 2011/12 and data in this series have been provided from that point forward.  Data for the 2016/17 year will be published in 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. 

The bulletin will be available in PDF format from either this website or Analytical Services Group, 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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