Department of Justice and Equality publishes research report on recidivism and policy responses



27 May, 2020


The Department of Justice and Equality today launched the findings from an international evidence review on recidivism and policy responses.


The report, which was prepared by Prof. Ian O’Donnell from the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice, School of Law, University College Dublin is the third in a series of pieces of research that have been commissioned by the Research and Data Analytics unit and builds on the Department’s commitment to support the development of more evidence-informed policy making.


Recidivism refers to relapse of criminal behaviour, which can include a range of outcomes, including rearrests, reconviction, and reimprisonment. According to the most recent figures from the CSO, 45.8% of prisoners released in 2012 reoffended within three years of their release, while 43.3% of offenders managed by the Probation Service reoffended within three years (based on 2013 cohort).


With the aim of assisting policy formation in the department, the review sought to address a range of questions relating to:


(i)            factors underpinning recidivist and prolific offending behaviour;

(ii)           public policy interventions that tackle recidivism and prolific offending; and

(iii)          effectiveness of these interventions and likelihood of successful transplantation to an Irish context.


Key findings of the report include the following:



The review will constitute a valuable resource for researchers and act as a springboard for future empirical research on best practice in this area and provide a body of evidence essential to inform future policy discussions and development.


Secretary General of the Department of Justice & Equality, Aidan O’Driscoll, stated,


“As this report points out, knowing the characteristics of recidivism prone individuals or situations will allow interventions to be targeted with greater precision and confidence. This is not only to the advantage of the individuals concerned and their families, but also to the wider community.


Mr. O’Driscoll continued,


“With this piece of work Prof. Ian O’Donnell has provided us with much food for thought regarding factors underpinning recidivistic offending behaviour; public policy interventions that tackle such behaviour; and the effectiveness of these interventions.”


The full report is available on the Department’s website here: