Sex offenders least likely to commit further crimes

Four in 10 offenders spared prison commit crime again within three years

A major new study has found that 40 per cent of people spared prison when convicted of a crime in 2008 went on to reoffend within a three-year period.

A major new study has found that 40 per cent of people spared prison when convicted of a crime in 2008 went on to reoffend within a three-year period.

Wed, Dec 11, 2013, 01:01

A major new study has found that 40 per cent of people spared prison when convicted of a crime in 2008 went on to re-offend within a three year period.

Those convicted of sex offences or homicide offences - which relate to any crime involving loss of life - were the least likely to re-offend, debunking the myth that sex offenders are the worst recidivists.

Just 14.3 per cent of those convicted of a homicide offence and 14.7 convicted of a sexual offence in 2008 re-offended in the following three years. This compared to rates of 30-40 per cent in most other crime categories.

The overall rate of re-offending, or recidivism, of 41 per cent for all crime types was eight per cent lower when compared to a study of criminals convicted in 2007.

It is unclear why the rates of re-offending fell so significantly from 2007 to 2008.

However, crime rates in general showed significant decreases as people’s disposal income for alcohol and illegal drugs fell and Garda patrol hours decreased due to Government cutbacks.

Minister for Justice Alan Shatter welcomed the fall in levels of reoffending but said a recidivism rate of 41 per cent over a three year period was still too high.

“This report is an indicator of how things stood in 2008 and it is my view that the probation recidivism rate can, and should, be lower,” he said.

He was hopeful recent changes to expand non custodial options to more criminals and to broaden the range of those options would be reflected in lower recidivism rates in the years to come.

The research shows men are much more likely to reoffend than women, with young men the most likely to find themselves in trouble with the authorities again within three years.

The study by the Central Statistics Office also reveals that those diverted to community service schemes, where offenders actively participate in rehabilitative programmes, have a slightly better chance of not finding themselves before the courts again than those subjected to a probation order.

Some 38 per cent of people convicted in 2008 of any one of a wide range of offences and given a community service order had reoffended at some point in the following three years. But for those who were given probation orders, involving meeting with probation officers, the rate was four per cent higher.

Those under the age of 18 years were by far the most likely to re-offend, with 58 per cent breaking the law again within three years. Recidivism rates fell for higher age groups and were lowest, at just five per cent, in that group of offenders aged 65 years and older.

There was also a distinct gender-based trend, with 42 per cent of all male offenders, compared to 34 per cent of female offenders, reoffending within three years.

Of those offenders studied who went on to re-offend within three years, some 44 per cent committed that subsequent offence in the “public order” category of crimes, by far the most common subsequent offence.

The next most common subsequent offence fell into the “theft and related offences” category, accounting for 17 per cent of those who re-offended.

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