Burglars in Dublin more likely to be sent to prison

Imprisonment rates for offence vary between 74 per cent in capital and 39 per cent in Galway

There is a huge discrepancy in the punishments imposed on burglars depending on where they commit their office, data released to The Irish Times shows.

The imprisonment rate for burglary cases dealt with in the country’s 74 District Courts (located in 26 District Court areas) varied between 39 per cent in Galway and 74 per cent in Dublin in the first seven months of 2017.

Burglars in Dublin are significantly more likely to be sent to prison compared to those in other parts of the country, particularly in the past two years when the imprisonment rate increased by more than 10 per cent.

The overall average imprisonment rate for District Court burglary offences was 65 per cent in the first half of 2017, down from 70 per cent in 2016. Its lowest rate in the last seven years was 59.8 per cent in 2011.


Details of more than 11,000 burglary sentences in the District Court from 2010 to July 2017 were released to The Irish Times following a Freedom of Information request.

As well as showing large differences in how different judges handle offences, the data also shows that sentencing trends have been in flux in recent years.

Although the overall imprisonment rate has remained relatively stable nationally, there have been significant shifts in individual areas, with rates increasing in some districts and decreasing in others.

Sentencing regimes

For example, in 2011 Limerick District Court had one of the toughest sentencing regimes in the country with 83 per cent of those convicted of burglary going to prison. However since then the imprisonment rate has fallen steadily – only 49 per cent of convicts went to jail in 2016 and 41 per cent in the first half of 2017.

In Cork, 77 per cent of burglary convicts went to jail in 2011. By 2016 this had dropped to 65 per cent.

The trend has been going in the opposite direction in Dublin, which operates by far the busiest District Courts (in 2016 Dublin’s District Courts dealt with over a quarter of the country’s 1,183 burglary convictions).

In Dublin’s 12 District Courts, 46 per cent of convicted burglars received a prison term in 2011, increasing to 74 per cent in 2016.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime and Security Correspondent of The Irish Times