Belfast Telegraph

'Cost-effective' scheme cuts prolific criminals' offending by 70%, data shows

A criminal justice project reduced offending rates among Northern Ireland's most prolific criminals by more than 70% last year, a new study has found.

The reduced crime levels in 2016 saved the public purse £11.6 million, it has been claimed.

According to a report on the Reducing Offending in Partnership (ROP) programme, "for every £1 spent on the project an economic benefit of £2.20 is generated in the form of reduced economic costs of crime".

The research findings are based on analysis involving 112 priority offenders on the ROP programme and found reductions in burglary, criminal damage, theft and violence against a person.

ROP - which is made up of the Probation Board for Northern Ireland (PBNI), the Police Service of Northern Ireland (PSNI), the Youth Justice Agency (YJA), Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) and the Department of Justice (DOJ) - target interventions at the most prolific offenders.

PSNI Assistant Chief Constable Alan Todd said the partnership works with offenders who have substantial criminal records and aims to give them an opportunity to change their lives.

"It is important to remember as well that this is no soft option, there are serious consequences for those who refuse to change their ways including being sent back to prison," he added.

Paul Doran, the Probation Board's director of rehabilitation and chair of the Reducing Offending in Partnership steering group, said the report highlights the value that ROP brings to communities in Northern Ireland.

"Not only is this approach reducing the incidence of crime but it is also cost effective which is important given that all justice agencies are operating against the backdrop of reduced resources," he added.

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