The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published Research and Statistics Bulletin on Adult and Youth Reoffending In Northern Ireland (2019/20 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 2019/20 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 (2019/20 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 2019/20 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).
- Of the 20,392 people included in the 2019/20 cohort, 3,358 (16.5%) reoffended during the one year observational period (adults 16.0%, youths 24.8%).
- The 2019/20 cohort was made up of 19,344 adults (94.9%) and 1,048 young people (5.1%). Of the adults within the cohort, 16.0% reoffended. The corresponding figure for young people was 24.8%.
- Of the 3,358 who reoffended, over two-fifths (46.5%) committed their first reoffence within the first three months (adults 45.9%, youths 52.7%).
- In terms of offending history, 63.2% of the 20,392 had committed previous offences, ranging from one to 484 distinct offences, (adults 64.8%, youths 32.6%).
- Overall, 10.9% of females and 17.9% of males had reoffended (adult females 10.4% and adult males 17.5%, youth females 20.0% and youth males 26.1%).
- The one year proven reoffending rate for;
- custody releases was 46.8% (adults 46.2% and 16 of 20 youths).
- court community disposal (supervision) was 29.9% (adults 28.7%, youths 45.6%).
- court community disposal (no supervision) was 15.6% (adults 15.4%, youths 38.6%).
- diversionary disposal was 14.2% (adults 12.2%, youths 21.5%).
- The highest reoffending rates were found amongst those who had committed a baseline offence in the ‘Robbery’ category (50.0%), followed by ‘Burglary’ (43.5%). This was the same for adults only, (‘Robbery’ 50.0% and ‘Burglary’ 45.5%). For youths, the highest reoffending rates were found amongst those who had committed a baseline offence of ‘Robbery’ (2 out of 4), followed by ‘Drugs’ (34.6%) and ‘Criminal Damage & Arson’ (29.6%).
 Base reoffending rates should not be used to measure the comparative success of different disposal types in their own right. The reason for this is that different offender characteristics and histories, coupled with different offence types, will themselves be related to the type of disposal given. Therefore, offender profiles may differ substantially between the different disposal types.
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. Inevitably what needs to be taken into account in the interpretation of these figures is, most obviously, (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, indeed, 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 Statistics and Research section of this website or
- Analytical Services Group, Castle Buildings, Stormont Estate, Belfast BT4 3SG. Email.
5. Press queries about this publication should be directed to the DoJ Press Office via Email