Research and Statistical Bulletin 16/2018 Court Prosecutions, Convictions and Out of Court Disposals Statistics for Northern Ireland, 2017

Date published: 19 June 2018

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published Research and Statistical Bulletin 16/2018 ‘Court Prosecutions, Convictions and Out of Court Disposals Statistics for Northern Ireland, 2017’. 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:


The number of prosecutions disposed at Crown Court in 2017 was 1,587, a decrease of 15.7%, from 1,882 in 2016.  The number of prosecutions at magistrates’ courts rose from 25,767 in 2016 to 26,767 in 2017, a rise of 3.9%.    
In 2017, 83.3% (23,630) of prosecutions in all courts resulted in a conviction.  This compares with 2016 when 83.0% (22,956) of prosecutions in all courts resulted in a conviction. 
The majority, 81.9% (23,214), of prosecutions completed at all courts in 2017, were cases where the defendant was male.  In Crown Court, 89.2% (1,416) of prosecutions were against males. In magistrates’ courts, 81.4% (21,798) were against males.
Persons in the 30 – 39 year old age band made up 26.4% (7,497) of all prosecutions at courts in Northern Ireland and 26.4% (6,228) of those convicted at all courts in 2017, more than defendants in any other age band.
Of all offence categories, motoring offences made up the largest proportion of prosecutions at all courts: 12,514 (44.1% of all prosecutions) in 2017.  Of all offence categories, drugs offences had the highest conviction rate at all courts, at 93.3% (1,872). 

Monetary penalties were the most frequently utilised disposal at all courts in 2017, with 55.6% (13,147) of all convictions having this type

of disposal as their primary outcome. A custodial outcome was imposed in 12.3% (2,910) of cases at all courts in 2017.


A total of 2,002 Penalty Notices for Disorder (PNDs) were issued in 2017, 80.0% of which were to males. Miscellaneous crimes against society constituted the largest proportion of PNDs issued, with 39.3% (786) of all PNDs issued for offences in this category. 
The number of out of court, diversionary disposals recorded against individuals’ criminal records in 2017 was 4,715, a fall of 11.6% from 5,335 in 2016.  Most diversionary disposals were dealt with by way of caution, with 79.1% (3,728) of all diversionary disposals dealt with in this way. 
Of all those who received a diversionary disposal in 2017, most were in the younger age categories, with 50.9% (2,400) of all diversionary disposals handed out to the under 25 year old age group.
In 2017, 74.8% (3,525) of all diversionary disposals were handed down to males.  
Of all diversionary disposals, 22.4% (1,054) were handed down for drug offences and a further 21.4% (1,007) were for violence against the person offences.


Notes to editors: 

1.This bulletin presents prosecutions and convictions data for the year 2017 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 2017. 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 2018, will be available in early summer 2019.   

4.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. 

5.The bulletin will be available in PDF format from either the DoJ website ( 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 on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned..

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