37% on probation re-offend in two years

Nearly half of burglars and public order offenders who served their sentences in the community committed another offence within two years, the first study of its type in Ireland has shown.

The average rate of re-offending among all of those under Probation Service supervision was 37%.

The study was conducted by the Probation Service and the Central Statistics Office (CSO) and is the first such research of recidivism among offenders in the community.

The overall recidivism rate of 37% is slightly lower than in previous research into re-offending among people released after serving their sentences in prison.

That research, conducted by the Institute of Criminology in UCD, found that 39% of offenders committed another crime within two years. The Probation Service report shows a recidivism rate of 27% within the first year — the same rate found in the UCD research.

The Probation Service study found public order offenders had the highest recidivism rate (49%), followed by burglars (48%).

The UCD report also found recidivism was the highest for property crime, including burglary, at 49%. The vast majority of public order offences do not result in a prison sentence.

The Probation Service report said sex offenders had the lowest recidivism rate, at 16%, but the number of offenders (32) was very small and was not therefore comparable to other rates.

The UCD report also found sex offenders had the lowest rate of re-offending, at 18% after three years.

The Probation Service report detailed recidivism rates for other offenders: Theft (42%); property damage (40%), weapons (38%), assault (31%); road traffic (29%); robbery (28%); and drugs offences (28%).

The report said the recidivism rate for drug offenders was “unexpectedly low”.

The researchers cautioned that recidivism rates “do not pick up on the quantity, nature or seriousness of such re-offending”.

When ages were broken down, the highest rate of recidivism was among females under the age of 18 (60%). The highest rate among males was in the same age group (52%).

The study was based on 3,576 offenders placed on probation orders or community service orders during the 12 months of 2007 and examined after two years.

Justice Minister Alan Shatter pointed out that almost 63% of offenders had not re-offended.

“I welcome this study and its positive assessment of the effectiveness of non-custodial sanctions.”

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