- Minister welcomes reduction in reoffending by persons sentenced to probation
- Community service continues to show very good outcomes
- Variations of reoffending rates, including geographic variations, will be studied further by the Department of Justice and Equality and the Probation Service
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., today noted the publication of a new statistical release by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on Probation Reoffending Statistics. The report identifies reoffending by persons sentenced to probation supervision in the years 2013, 2014 and 2015.
Commenting on the report, Minister Flanagan said:
“I welcome the CSO findings published today and in particular the finding that overall reoffending rates are decreasing over time. 28% of 2013 probationers reoffended within one year, down from a total of almost 36% of 2008 probationers who did so. These results are encouraging and highlight the valuable contribution made by the Probation Service to the criminal justice system and to the safety of our communities.”
The CSO report shows that re-offending by those sentenced to probation supervision in 2013 was 45.3%, compared to 54.6% in the 2008 cohort. Minister Flanagan said:
“The fact that the majority - over 54% - of 2013 probationers did not reoffend within the full 3 year time period studied is positive, particularly given that even the most minor transgression and Court imposed penalty is treated as reoffending in this study.”
The report found variations in the rates of reoffending across a number of categories. Males are more likely to reoffend than females (for the 2013 cohort and across a 3-year period, this rate was 45.9% for males compared to 41% for females), but the gap between them is decreasing.
The recidivism rate also reduces compared to the age of offenders: for the 2013 probationers, 73.6% of offenders under 18 reoffended within 3 years, compared to 27.5% of those aged 45 – 64.
Minister Flanagan continued:
“I have noted the variations found by the CSO across a number of categories including between male and female offenders; as well as the significant geographic variations identified. This provides my Department and the Probation Service with valuable information which will be followed-up and considered further.”
The report also shows variations depending on whether the individual was sentenced to a Community Service Order, a Probation Order or Post Custody Supervision. Overall, those sentenced to a Community Service Order were less likely to reoffend than those sentenced to a Probation Order (41.6% compared to 49.6% for the 2013 cohort over a 3 year period).
The Minister said:
“I particularly welcome the finding that Community Service continues to show very good outcomes. This shows that Community Service orders can help reduce re-offending rates in a way that not only benefits communities nationwide, but also allows offenders a chance to make amends for their criminal actions in a tangible way.”
The report also identified that persons referred to probation following a burglary conviction are more likely to reoffend that those referred for any other offence type. Minister Flanagan concluded:
“I am aware of the particular challenges posed by those convicted of burglary offences. Action has been taken by Government on this particular issue across a number of fronts. The Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Act 2015 was enacted as a response to repeat offending in this area and targets repeat burglary offenders through new measures relating to bail and providing for consecutive sentencing for repeat offending.
“An Garda Síochána too, through Operation Thor, is taking a broad range of actions to tackle burglary and property related crime. The scale of Garda activity under Operation Thor has resulted in approximately 10,000 arrests between November 2015 and May 2019. This focused Garda attention is continuing, to help keep all our communities safe.”
The Director of the Probation Service, Vivian Geiran, also welcomed today’s publication, saying:
“The reoffending rates reflect improvements in Probation Service supervision, and indicate that we are continuing to perform well. Areas for improvement, such as young persons, are also noted and we are currently working to develop better systems in this regard.”
The Director added:
“Timely, accurate data is very important in terms of outcome measures to enable evidence informed policy and service delivery. The CSO operates to the highest standards and the Probation Service is pleased to continue to partner with them on such significant work going forward.”
Notes to Editors
The full release can be accessed at: www.cso.ie
The study includes all persons sentenced to an order supervised in the community. It also includes, for the first time, persons on post-custody supervision orders; orders where persons are subject to Probation Service supervision on release from custody. It tracks their offending behaviour over the three years following their sentencing or release.
According to the CSO, the classification of “Under Reservation” is in keeping with other jurisdictions and other statistical domains. This indicates that, while the statistics have been determined to be of sufficient quality to allow publication, the ongoing issues mean that the quality does not yet meet the higher standard required of official statistics by the CSO. While this work continues, the category of Statistics Under Reservation applies to all statistical outputs sourced from PULSE data in the interim
Criteria for lifting the categorisation
The CSO is engaging with An Garda Síochána to set out the criteria for the lifting of the reservation. These criteria are not confined to homicide data but will address quality concerns across a broader range of issues. They will address issues such as data governance, training, crime data recording procedures and the auditing and monitoring of data quality.
The Probation Service
The Probation Service is the lead agency in the assessment and management of offenders in the community. The Probation Service plays an important role in helping to reduce the level of crime by working with offenders to change their offending behaviour and make good the harm done by their offending. The publication of the first CSO/Probation Recidivism study in 2012 has been an important milestone for the Probation Service in the production of research based management information. There had previously been an absence of research on recidivism of offenders under the management of the Probation Service. The Central Statistics Office and the Probation Service therefore began a process of exploring the possible synergies between their extensive datasets. Data from the PULSE system and Probation Service records were used to produce the statistics published by the CSO today.