Seven out of 10 burglars released from prison in 2009 have committed another offence — mainly public order, burglary, or theft — within three years. This compares to six out of 10 of burglars released in 2008.
Central Statistics Office figures show that recorded reoffending rates for all offences are higher among those released from prison, compared to those who served their sentence in the community.
The figures show the post-release period is critical, with two thirds of those released from prison reoffending within the first six months, including almost nine out of 10 offenders aged under 21.
Almost a quarter of those finishing their community sentence reoffended within the first six months.
The CSO recorded recidivism (reoffending) figures show:
- 47.5% of offenders released from prison in 2009 reoffended within three years — compared to 51% of such offenders released in 2008 (prison recidivism);
- 37% of offenders who completed their community sentence in 2009 reoffended within three years — compared to 41% of such offenders in 2008 (probation recidivism).
“I welcome the fact that recidivism levels for both those who were released from prison in 2009 and those who were supervised by the Probation Service have fallen by 3.5% and 3.7% respectively,” said Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald.
Prison recidivism was highest in the younger age categories, including 55% of young males.
The offences showing the highest rates of reoffending were among those convicted of burglary (70%), followed by robbery (66%), theft (66%), and weapons (64%).
These show a massive rise in cases of robbery (up from 45%), burglary (60%), and weapons (51%).
Burglary is also the highest reoffending category within probation recidivism, although it increased only marginally (from 49% to 49.4%).
Commenting on the burglary figures, Ms Fitzgerald said she was determined to keep burglars off the streets and improve the safety of communities. She cited legislation she recently published on the sentencing and bail provisions for multiple burglary offenders.
The probation recidivism report shows that reoffending rates were by far the highest in the under-18 age category, at 62%, including 65% among males (up from 60% in 2008).
Fíona Ní Chinnéide, deputy executive director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, said the rise in reoffending by those imprisoned for burglary showed prison wasn’t working.
“Government should invest in restorative justice strategies, which are proven to be particularly effective in reducing burglary reoffending, instead of pursuing knee-jerk proposals for longer prison sentences,” said Ms Ní Chinnéide.
She said the persistently high levels of reoffending by young people highlighted the need for tailored strategies for that group.
Overall, she said: “For too long, Ireland has been over-reliant on prison as a response to all categories of crime. These figures show that alternative punishments, such as community service and probation orders, are effective.”
Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil has that said it would increase the size of the Garda Síochána to 14,000 members. The current strength is 12,800.
Justice spokesman Niall Collins accused the Government of “starving” gardaí of resources and ignoring the “crime crisis” in Dublin.
“We have heard a lot in recent times about rural crime and a lot of focus about that, but the ball is being missed about the crime crisis in Dublin,” said Mr Collins.
He said burglary in Dublin was up 15%, rape and sexual assault is up 16%, and public order offences up 8%.