Northern Ireland Youth Justice Agency Annual Workload Statistics 2020/21 published today

Date published: 07 October 2021

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published Research and Statistics Bulletin Northern Ireland Youth Justice Agency Annual Workload Statistics 2020/21.

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This annual Official Statistics publication provides workload statistics for the last five financial years for both Youth Justice Services (YJS) and Custodial Services (Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre, JJC) within the Youth Justice Agency (YJA). Area statistics in this report are produced in terms of the 11 Local Government Districts. This ensures that consistent data can be produced on an annual basis for comparison purposes. This will also facilitate comparison with other data sources such as PSNI recorded crime information or NI population data. The publication continues to provide descriptive analysis of trends on a range of demographics, including some Section 75 characteristics and care information.  This publication includes a ‘YJA Insight’ section which provides some management information which has not been subject to full official statistics validation and is therefore subject to change. The main findings of this report are presented below.

Northern Ireland Youth Justice Agency Annual Workload Statistics 2020/21

  • The number of referrals to the YJS in 2020/21 was 1,276, a decrease of 21.8% from 2019/20 (1,631).
  • Diversionary referrals (45.6%; 582) accounted for the largest proportion of all referrals in 2020/21, followed by Court Ordered (22.8%; 291) and Earlier Stage Diversions (20.2%; 258).
  • The number of individuals referred to YJS in 2020/21 (831) decreased by 13.2% from the previous year (957).
  • The total number of individuals in custody decreased by 14.3% (126, 2019/20; 108, 2020/21).
  • As in previous years males accounted for the majority of YJS referrals (74.5%) and of children referred to YJS (77.7%) and in custody (79.6%).
  • During 2020/21, 72.7% of total referrals and 72.6% of individuals referred to YJS were aged 15 and over; the corresponding figure for children in custody was 82.4%.
  • Three out of five children in custody in 2020/21 were Catholic (59.3%); 17.6% were Protestant.
  • In 2020/21, 35.2% of children in custody were in care (25.0% subject to a care order; 10.2% were voluntary accommodated).
  • In terms of local government district, Belfast had the highest number of YJS referrals (294) and admissions to custody (83).  Belfast also had the highest number of children referred to YJS (206) or in custody (29).  Regarding children in custody, Derry City and Strabane had the highest rate per 1000 at 1.4.
  • In 2020/21 there was a total of 3,896 days of custody provided by the JJC, 36.9% lower than in 2019/20 (6,177) and 50.9% lower than in 2016/17 (7,935). Of these days 6.1% were for PACE, 86.1% for remand and 7.8% for sentence.
  • The total number of admissions to the JJC was 9.7% lower in 2020/21 (269) than in 2019/20 (298).  Overall movements within the JJC, that is new admissions plus internal changes of status, such as PACE to Remand, was 8.4% lower in 2020/21 (381) than in the previous year (416). 
  • Of the 916 statutory referrals during 2020/21, the highest proportion involved violence against the person (31.9%; 292).

Notes to editors: 

1.  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. 

2.  The bulletin will be available in PDF format from either

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

4.  Follow us on Twitter @Justice_NI

5.  The Executive Information Service operates an out-of-hours service for media enquiries only, between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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