Minister for Justice notes CSO publication of Probation Re-Offending Statistics



17 November 2020


The Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee T.D., today noted the publication of Probation Re-Offending Statistics by the Central Statistics Office (CSO). The report identifies reoffending by persons sentenced to probation supervision in 2016.


Speaking today Minister McEntee said,


“This independent assessment by the Central Statistics Office of the impact of noncustodial measures on rates of re-offending is very important for informing the effectiveness of community sanctions. This study, which has been running since 2008, shows the recidivism or re-offending rate of people who enter the Probation Service over a 3 year period from the date of their probation sentence.


“The latest publication in this study, issued today, focuses on a cohort of offenders from 2016, and shows the recidivism or re-offending rate for this group after a 12 month period. The study shows that almost 69% of those given an alternative sanction of a Probation Order, Community Service Order or Post Release Supervision Order in 2016 had not reoffended within one year."


Compared to the CSO’s previous statistics on probation reoffending for the previous three years 2013, 2014 and 2015 this report shows that Probation re-offending rates within the first year are remaining relatively static.


The report found variations in the rates of reoffending across a number of categories. Males are slightly more likely to reoffend than females (the rate in 2016 was 30.3% for males compared to 30% for females). When looking at offence type, theft and related offences has the highest re-offending rate over a 12 months period whilst sexual offences has the lowest.


The recidivism rate also decreases compared to the age of the offenders: for the 2016 probationers, 45.6% of offenders under 18 reoffended compared to 21.7% of those aged over 65.


Data for 2016 indicates that the level of re-offending is higher among individuals sentenced to a Probation Order (34.1%) than those sentenced to a Community Service Order (28.3%) or those under Post Release Supervision (15.9%).


Minister McEntee continued,


“I particularly welcome the finding that Community Service Orders continue to show very good outcomes, indicating that Community Service orders can help reduce reoffending rates in a way that not only benefits communities nationwide, but also allows offenders a chance to make amends for their criminal actions in a tangible way.


I also welcome the finding the Post Release Supervision continues to show very good outcomes.”


The Minister also commented on the need to use the findings of the CSO to help inform what supports and systems are required to reduce reoffending rates, saying,


“Later this week I will be launching the new ‘Working to Change - social enterprise and employment strategy 2021- 2023’, which is an ambitious yet achievable strategy. It sets out 46 inter-connected actions spanning three strategic areas, all of which are designed to increase employment opportunities for people with criminal records by addressing the barriers and challenges people with convictions face when trying to enter the labour market.


“One of the key ways to prevent reoffending is by creating education and employment opportunities, and Working to Change will increase employment opportunities in social enterprise, in general employment and through entrepreneurship.”


The Director of the Probation Services, Mark Wilson, also welcomed today’s publication, saying:


“The reoffending rates reflect improvements in Probation Service supervision, and indicates that we are continuing to perform well. I am particularly pleased that reoffending by persons subject to post release supervision is encouragingly low. This does confirm our belief that supervision and support in the community after release does improvement positive resettlement and reduces harmful behaviour.”





Notes for Editors


The full release can be accessed at:


“Under Reservation”

According to the CSO, the classification of “Under Reservation” is in keeping with other jurisdictions and other statistical domains. This indicates that, while the statistics have been determined to be of sufficient quality to allow publication, ongoing issues mean that the quality does not yet meet the higher standard required of official statistics by the CSO.


Criteria for lifting the categorisation

The CSO is engaging with An Garda Síochána to set out the criteria for the lifting of the reservation. These criteria are not confined to homicide data but will address quality concerns across a broader range of issues. They will address issues such as data governance, training, crime data recording procedures and the auditing and monitoring of data quality.


The Probation Service


The Probation Service is the lead agency in the assessment and management of offenders in the community. The Probation Service plays an important role in helping reduce the level of crime by working with offenders to change their offending behaviour and make good the harm done by their offending. The publication of the first CSO/Probation Recidivism study in 2012 has been an important milestone for the Probation Service in the production of research based management information. There had previously been an absence of research on recidivism of offenders under the management of the Probation Service. The Central Statistics Office and the Probation Service therefore began a process of exploring the possible synergies between their extensive datasets. Data from the PULSE system and the Probation Service records were used to produce the statistics published by the CSO today.


An Evidence Review of Recidivism and Policy Responses


The Department of Justice launched the findings from an international evidence review on recidivism and policy responses, prepared by Prof. Ian O’ Donnell in May of this year. The review sought to address a range of questions relating to:


  1. factors underpinning recidivist and prolific offending behaviour;
  2. public policy interventions that tackle recidivism and prolific offending; and
  3. effectiveness of these interventions and likelihood of successful transplantation to an Irish context.


The review constitutes a valuable resource for researchers and acts as a springboard for future empirical research on best practice in this area and provides a body of evidence essential to inform future policy discussions and development. The Review can be read here: