First Time Entrants to the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland 2021/22 published today

Date published: 07 July 2023

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published the Research and Statistical Bulletin ‘First Time Entrants to the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland 2021/22’. 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 2021/22.  The key findings were as follows:


  • In 2021/22, 28,154 offences were recorded as dealt with by conviction or diversion in the justice system in Northern Ireland. Of these, 24.5% (6,886) were first offences. The comparative figure for 2020/21 was 22.4%.
  • Of first offences, 28.3% (1,954) were dealt with by formal diversionary disposal and 71.6% (4,932) by conviction.


  • Of all first time entrants in 2021/22, 9.5% (654) were aged 10 to 17 and 28.4% (1,954) were aged 18 to 24.
  • Those aged 10 to 17 were most likely (87.3%, 571 out of 654) to receive a diversion for a first offence. 78.9% (310) first time entrants aged 60 and over received a conviction.
  • Of all offences committed by males[1] and dealt with by conviction or diversion, 21.7% (4,984) were first offences; the comparative figure for females was 36.9% (1,902).


  • Over half, 55.0% (3,785) of all first offences in 2021/22 were motoring offences. Of all instances where a conviction or diversion was issued for offences in that category, 32.8% were for first offences.
  • Monetary disposals made up 57.0% (3,923) of all disposals for first offences in 2021/22. First offences accounted for 28.7% of all instances where a monetary penalty was imposed in relation to a conviction or diversion.
  • Of all instances where imprisonment was imposed as a penalty, first offences accounted for only 2.5% (174 out of 3,026).
  • First offences accounted for 52.3% (1,954) of all instances where a diversionary disposal was issued. Of first offences dealt with by diversion, 72.0% (1,407) were dealt with by way of caution. However, while 51.2% of all cautions were for first offences, 85.1% (252) of all informed warnings issued were for first offences.

[1] Figures for Males also include organisations, transgender and gender not specified, due to the small numbers involved.

Notes to editors: 

1.  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 2021/22. 

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.  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 are available from that point forward.  Data for the 2022/23 year will be published in summer 2024.

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 publication section of this website  or Analytical Services Group, Financial Services Division, Block B, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Upper Newtownards Road, Belfast BT4 3SG or Email

6.  Press queries about this publication should be directed to the DoJ Press Office via Email



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