The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published Research and Statistics Bulletin: Adult and Youth Reoffending In Northern Ireland (2020/21 Cohort)
This annual Official Statistics publication provides information on the one year proven reoffending rate for offenders who received a non-custodial disposal at court, a diversionary disposal or who were released from custody during 2020/21 within Northern Ireland. Information is presented in relation to the full cohort and also disaggregated in relation to adults (those aged 18 and over) and youths (those aged 17 and under). The main findings of this report are presented below.
Adult and Youth Reoffending in Northern Ireland (2020/21 Cohort)
- This annual bulletin provides information on the one year proven reoffending rate for offenders who received a non-custodial disposal at court, a diversionary disposal or who were released from custody during 2020/21 in Northern Ireland. Information is presented in relation to the full cohort and disaggregated by adults (aged 18 and over) and youths (aged 17 and under).
- Of the 15,631 people included in the 2020/21 cohort, 2,935 (18.8%) reoffended during the one year observational period (adults 18.5%, youths 25.0%).
- The cohort was made up of 14,923 adults (95.5%) and 708 young people (4.5%). Of the adults within the cohort, 18.5% reoffended. The corresponding figure for young people was 25.0%.
- Of the 2,935 who reoffended, over two-fifths (45.8%) committed their first reoffence within the first three months (adults 45.6%, youths 48.6%).
- In terms of offending history, 64.5% of the 15,631 had committed previous offences, ranging from one to 591 distinct offences, (adults 66.0%, youths 31.8%).
- Overall, 13.1% of females and 20.1% of males had reoffended (adult females 12.6% and adult males 19.9%, youth females 22.5% and youth males 25.8%).
- The one year proven reoffending rate for;
- custody releases was 49.1% (adults 48.9% and 7 of 10 youths).
- community disposal (supervision) was 28.8% (adults 27.4%, youths 49.5%).
- community disposal (no supervision) was 17.5% (adults 17.3%, youths 52.1%).
- diversionary disposal was 17.3% (adults 16.2%, youths 21.5%).
- The highest reoffending rates were found amongst those who had committed a baseline burglary offence (45.2%), followed by robbery (35.5%) and criminal damage and arson (32.3%). This was the same for adults only (burglary 45.8%, robbery 34.4%, criminal damage and arson 33.0%). For youths, the highest reoffending rates were found among those with a baseline offence of robbery (1 out of 1), followed by burglary (7 out of 18) and theft (32.7%).
Notes to editors:
1. In 2013, the Department of Justice’s Analytical Services Group embarked on a project to revise the methodology used to calculate recidivism rates within Northern Ireland, bringing it more in line with established methodology in England and Wales. For a more detailed methodology, refer to ‘Northern Ireland Reoffending Methodology: Methodology and Glossary Part 1’.
2. Any study of reoffending rates is prone to misunderstanding and misrepresentation if sufficient care is not taken to observe the caveats around each figure. For example, for both adult and youth cases, the reoffending rates are highest for those released from custody and lowest for those given a diversionary disposal. What needs to be taken into account in the interpretation of these figures is, (a) the seriousness of the offence which led to the disposal in the first place and (b) the previous criminal history of the individual as a factor in the original disposal, together with a range of other criminogenic, demographic and administrative/procedural issues. What these figures do not mean is that diversionary disposals are, irrespective of other factors, necessarily a more efficient deterrent to reoffending.
3. 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.
4. The bulletin will be available in PDF format from either
- The publication section of this website DoJ web-site or
- Analytical Services Group, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast BT4 3SG. Email
5. For all media enquiries, please contact the Press Office via Email
6. 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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