By Ciaran Lockhart
The DoJ statistical bulletin provides analysis of cases relating to young people (aged between 10 and 17 years) coming into formal contact with the criminal justice system in Northern Ireland for the year 1 April 2018 – 31 March 2019.
‘Youth Engagement Statistics for Northern Ireland 2018/19’ as the report is called, provides figures of cases referred for the youth engagement process. Information on the time taken for cases to be completed and on the subsequent outcomes is also outlined.
According to the bulletin: “of the 2,822 cases relating to young people coming into formal contact with the criminal justice system in 2018/19, 40.4% (1,139) were deemed suitable by the Public Prosecution Service (PPS) for resolution through the youth engagement process, with 57.3% (1,618) cases assessed as not suitable.
Most cases involving young people coming into formal contact with the justice system in 2018/19 involved males, (76.5%, 2,160).
The most common outcome from youth engagement clinics was a youth conference plan, with 49.5% (564) of young people following this route. Informed warnings were the outcome for 18.9% (215) of young people attending youth engagement clinics, with restorative cautions being the outcome for 17.7% (202) of young people.”
The median time taken for cases to reach completion via the youth engagement process was 46 days with 80% of all cases had completed within 89 days”.
The Department of Justice has outlined that a multi-disciplinary initiative is the approach taken towards youth engagement in Northern Ireland. The Police Service of Northern Ireland, the Public Prosecution Service, and the Youth Justice Agency, aim to divert young people accused of crime, away from court.
Instead, it is hoped that these cases can be diverted into a more reparative process with the option of early stage intervention and or support.
According to the DoJ, “the efficiency of the criminal justice system is important for victims, witnesses, their families and communities, in terms of building confidence, as well as demonstrating legitimacy of the rule of law”.
This is the first year that these statistics have been available, and DoJ anticipate that it will be published annually.
Link to the source of the data: https://www.justice-ni.gov.uk/publications/research-and-statistical-bulletin-youth-engagement-statistics-northern-ireland-201819