Belfast Telegraph

Nearly 800 children enter Northern Ireland justice system for first time in one year

Nearly 800 children and youths entered Northern Ireland's justice system for the first time in the 2016/17 period, new figures have shown.

Figures released by the Department for Justice give an overview of numbers entering the Northern Ireland justice system for the first time.

For 2016/17 a total of 29,031 offences were recorded across all categories, with 8,665 of these being first offences.

The figures mirrored closely the picture for 2015/16, when 29,083 offences were recorded as dealt with by conviction or diversion in the justice system, with 8,848 first offences. 

In 2016/17 there were 793 people aged 10-17 entered into the justice system for the first time - accounting for just over 9% of the total.

Out of this group, close to 90% received a diversion for their first offence.

Just over a quarter, 26.8%, of all first-time entrants to the Northern Ireland justice system were first time entrants in the 18-24 bracket.

Diversions exist in the justice system to deal with less serious offences and reduce the risk of re-offending.

In the case of young offenders, the diversion process can involve youth conferencing - a process where the offender discusses the harm caused by their actions and outlines ways to make retribution for them.

Figures also show just over half, 54.5%, of all first offences were motoring offences.

These were followed by violence against the person (13.4%), drugs offences (7.8%), and theft (6.2%).

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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