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Half of freed criminals reoffending within year of release

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 30/11/2015

Ukip MLA David McNarry
Ukip MLA David McNarry

Almost half of criminals released from prison in Northern Ireland went on to reoffend within 12 months of being freed.

Rates of reoffending were high among those convicted of burglary and violent crime.

More than 700 newly-released criminals went on to commit further offences in just one year.

The figures were disclosed by the Justice Minister after an Assembly question from Ukip MLA David McNarry.

It has led to accusations that the justice system is too soft on offenders.

A victims' charity branded the figures "alarming", claiming that victims had been let down.

Responding to Mr McNarry's question, David Ford said 1,624 prisoners were released from custody during 2012/13 - the most recent figures available.

A total of 760 went on to reoffend - 46.8% of those released.

These included:

63.2% of burglars - 129 out of 204 released;

50.7% of drug offenders - 109 out of 215 released;

49.8% of violent criminals - 371 out of 745 released;

42.7% of armed robbers - 50 out of 117 released;

21.6% of child abusers - 19 out of 88 released;

9.4% of sex offenders - six out of 64 released.

Geraldine Hanna from Victim Support NI said victims deserved better justice.

"These alarming figures raise questions about the effectiveness of the sentences imposed and the level of work being done with offenders to stop them reoffending when they are released from prison," she said.

"The majority of victims want to ensure that the crime they suffered doesn't ever happen to anyone else.

"Sadly, victims are being let down.

"We at Victim Support NI would welcome any initiative to explore more effective remedies for offenders so victims can get the justice they deserve."

Mr McNarry said the reoffending rates were "absolutely disgraceful".

"The justice system is too soft - the offender knows that and so they don't give a damn," he said.

"It's a soft touch. Go into a cushy jail, come back out again far too quickly and return to destroying other people's lives.

"A reoffending rate of nearly 50% is horrendous.

"Victims of crime are being let down."

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