The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD, today welcomed the publication of the second Central Statistics Office Irish Prison Service Recidivism Study.

This study reports on recidivism among 5,489 offenders released by the Irish Prison Service on completion of a sentence in 2008, based on reoffending and reconviction data up to the end of 2011. This follow the previous CSO Report on the 2007 cohort published in May 2013.

The study focuses on recidivism where the new offence does not necessarily lead to a period of imprisonment and gives a clearer picture of the offending behaviour of ex-prisoners.

Welcoming the study Minister Shatter said, "The publication of this recidivism study and of future studies will allow the Irish Prison Service access to a comprehensive bank of data in relation to the rate of recidivism among ex-prisoners. This will help to inform future policy on the management of offenders and will facilitate the formulation of new strategies aimed at reducing recidivism".

The study’s findings indicate that the recidivism or re-offending rate was 51% for the particular cohort of offenders released in 2008. When compared with the equivalent cohort from the 2007 study there is a fall in recidivism of 4.3%.

This study also follows the recent report published by the CSO using Probation Service data which indicated a recidivism rate of 41% among those persons who were given an alternative sanction by the Courts. Both studies consider variations in recidivism as they relate to the type of original sanction imposed, gender and age of offenders, category of offence and subsequent re-offence.

Both reports found that males made up most of the total population assessed and had a higher recidivism rate than females (51.5% for males and 46.2% among females). Re-offending among younger offenders is high (a rate of 56.8% for prisoners under 21 years of age and a probation rate of 58.1% for those under 18 years of age).

The most common offence for reconviction was for a Public Order Offence. Both reports also showed that the overall recidivism rate has decreased on the 2007 figures (prison reduction of 4.3% and a probation reduction of 7.9%).

Minister Shatter continued, "Although there has been a reduction in the rate of recidivism of 4.3% on the previous year (2007), a recidivism rate of 51% remains too high and I believe this rate can, and should be significantly lower. I am aware that increases in prisoner numbers, in recent years, has placed great pressure on the Irish Prison Service and has limited its capacity to deliver appropriate rehabilitative services to prisoners aimed at reducing recidivism. Our prisons are not intended to be mere warehouses for criminals and I am confident that recent initiatives introduced by the Irish Prison Service such as the Incentivised Regimes Programme and the Community Return Programme have resulted in a prison system with an increased emphasis on rehabilitation. The impact of the introduction of such new initiatives and incentives for prisoners which are set out in the Irish Prison Service 3-Year Strategic Plan, published in 2012, will be witnessed in future recidivism studies when the releases of prisoners currently in custody are published".

However, Minister Shatter also stressed that responsibility for the reduction of recidivism was not confined to the Irish Prison Service, "The challenge of re-integration of prisoners is not the sole responsibility of the prison system. Through focusing on the ways in which we can improve co-operation within the criminal justice system and between community and state agencies we can certainly create the conditions which are needed to bring about better outcomes for offenders. We can also go some way towards achieving our collective objective of improving public safety".

The Minister commended the work of the Central Statistics Office in facilitating the undertaking of the study which he acknowledged was a follow up to the reports published in May and to the recent Probation Service report published last week. These reports provide valuable research data which will help the Irish Prison Service to deliver on its mission of "providing safe and secure custody, dignity of care and rehabilitation to prisoners for safer communities".

The report is available on the Central Statistics Office website at 

17 December 2013




This research project was undertaken in partnership with the Central Statistics Office, specifically the Crime Statistics Section, who facilitated the linking of Irish Prison Service data, Garda Síochána records and Courts Service records. This type of cross-agency analysis of released prisoners has not been possible until this year. The findings mark an important contribution to criminological research in Ireland and highlight the need for a greater emphasis on a structured multi-agency approach to preparing prisoners for their release. It will also enable yearly monitoring of recidivism trends and the evaluation of rehabilitation interventions.

The study also includes the 2007 figures which have been revised from the previously published figures as a cohort of prisoners, namely remand prisoners and those re-convicted for minor road traffic matters, who should have been excluded from the original study were included.

The re-offending rate among young offenders under 21 years of age is high at 56.8% but reduced by 3.5% in comparison with the equivalent population in the 2007 study.

Main Findings 

· A recidivism rate of 51 % within three years.

· 32.9% of those released re-offended within 6 months of release.

· 40.4% of those released re-offended within 12 months of release.

· The recidivism rate decreased as the offender age increased.

· Male offenders represented 90.8% of the total population studied and had a higher recidivism rate than female offenders (51.5% for males and 46.2% among females).

· The most common offences for which offenders were reconvicted was Group 15 Offences against Government, Justice Procedures and Organisation of Crime and Group 13 Public Order and other Social Code Offences.