Irish Penal Reform Trust

Probation recidivism 2015 cohort

19th November 2021

Statistics have been published by the Central Statistics Office (CSO) on rates of reoffending for individuals sentenced to probation in 2017 within one year of the date of their probation sentence, and individuals sentenced to probation in 2015 within 3 years of the date of their probation sentence. For more on how recidivism is measured by the CSO, visit the CSO website.

The data indicate that there has been a very slight decrease in rates of reoffending from the previous year, standing at 29% in 2017, as opposed to 31% in 2016.

Rates of reoffending remain highest immediately post-release, with two-thirds of reoffences occurring within the first six months, and one third in the following six to twelve months.

In line with previous years, it was found that those who received a Probation Order (32%) were more likely to reoffend than those who received a Community Service Order (28%) or a Post Release Supervision Order (17%). These statistics are broadly similar to those of 2016.

As to specific cohorts of individual, the 2017 data, much like the 2016 data, show that rates of reoffending among men (28%) are only slightly higher than those among women (27%). Age, however, appears to be a significant factor when it comes to the likelihood of reoffending. An inverse relationship has been demonstrated between age and reoffending rates, with a 42% reoffending rate for those under 18, compared to only 8% for those over 65. There has been a notable decrease in rates of reoffending among older individuals, with a reoffending rate of 21.7% for those aged 65 and over in 2016. A less dramatic decrease was seen in the 45-64 age group, with rates of reoffending falling from 21.1% in 2016 to 16.4% in 2017. The rates for younger individuals were largely similar in both years.

The highest rates of reoffending were found amongst those who received probation orders following the commission of public order (38.2%) and theft and related (35.4%) offences. The lowest rates were among those who originally received probation orders for sexual (3.1%) and kidnapping (5.9%) related offences. The highest rates of reoffending came from the same categories in 2016, although levels amongst those convicted of theft and related offences surpassed those convicted of public order related offences that year. Individuals who received probation orders for sexual offences in both 2016 and 2017 were the least likely to reoffend each year.

When it comes to the type of offence that an individual is most likely to be convicted for when reoffending, the 2017 data revealed that 23% of reoffending offences are related to road and traffic offences, and 22.1% to public order and other social code offences. 2017 is the first year in which all offences resulting in a court conviction are classified as reoffending, and as such is the first year that road traffic offences have been included in reoffending offence types.

One area of significant contrast between 2016 and 2017 was in the type of sanction being issued to individuals who reoffended. In 2017, only 29.5% received a custodial sentence, with 70.5% receiving a non-custodial sentence. By comparison, in 2016, just over half (50.6%) of people who reoffended received a custodial sentence for their reoffending offence, with only 49.4% receiving a non-custodial sentence.
 

Three-year reoffending rates

Data were also published on the rates of reoffending within three years from 2015, the most recent year for which such data are available. (This is the period historically used to measure reoffending.) The main finding was that 49% of individuals who received a probation order in 2015 committed at least one reoffence for which they received a conviction. This figure is up slightly from the previous year, with the three-year reoffending rate for 2014 standing at 47.2%.
 

To view data on Probation Reoffending, click here. For an infographic of the data, click here.

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