Sunday 25 September 2016

Victims' anger as figures reveal burglars among the biggest repeat offenders

Published 15/12/2015 | 02:30

Those imprisoned for burglary are among the most likely to revert back to a life of crime
Those imprisoned for burglary are among the most likely to revert back to a life of crime

Burglars are among the most likely criminals to reoffend after being released from prison.

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New figures reveal almost half of prisoners reoffend within three years of being released.

And almost 80pc of crimes occur within a year of a prisoner getting out of jail.

Some 7,507 prisoners were released from custody in 2009.

Of these, 3,563 (47.5pc) reoffended within a three-year period, according to new figures from the Central Statistics Office (CSO). Recidivism is higher among men than women - but differed depending on the initial imprisonment offence.

Sexual offenders (21.1pc) were among the least likely to reoffend.

Criminals convicted of fraud, deception, and related offences (27.2pc), were also low down the league table of repeat offenders.

Those on probation or community service orders were also least likely to reoffend with a figure 37.3pc.

However, those imprisoned for burglary were among the most likely to revert back to a life of crime. A total of 70pc were found guilty of repeat offences.

Sally Hanlon, director of services at Support After Crime, said these figures illustrated the need for an overhaul of the judicial system. "It is seldom that those put away for burglary committed just the one offence," she told the Irish Independent.

"The greater percentage tend to have committed a number of robberies.

"Judges should use a checklist to see if the offender was co-operative, whether the property involved was recovered, while assessing how the crime impacted on the victim.

"I would also like to see the new EU victims directive - allowing victims to give a victim-impact statement at a District Court level - being utilised. At least every victim would feel acknowledged."

The CSO report also shows a significant majority (65pc) of prisoners let out of jail committed a crime in the first six months after their release.

However, the rate at which prisoners reoffend decreases with age - 55pc of repeat offenders are under 21, while this falls to 27pc for those over 51.

Closure

Meanwhile, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald has published the Prisons Bill 2015, which facilitates the closure of the St Patrick's Institution for young offenders.

The bill will repeal various legal provisions that enable Irish courts to order the detention of offenders under the age of 21 in this facility.

Minister Fitzgerald said the bill would deliver on the Government's commitment to "end the practice of sending children to St Patrick's Institution". It is part of a broader programme of reform for young offenders. This will include legislation to transfer responsibility for children in detention from the Irish Prison Service to child detention schools at Oberstown.

Minister Fitzgerald said the path from St Patrick's Institution to Mountjoy Prison has been "too well worn over the years".

"We must interrupt the predictable path of repeat offending progressing to further ... committals in adult prisons."

Ms Fitzgerald will also bring a memo to Cabinet seeking the early signature of legislation allowing for the establishment of the new policing authority.

This will allow the law to be signed by President Michael D Higgins so that the authority can begin its work on January 1.

Irish Independent

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