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E-mail: Sam Scriven (+353) 21 453 5276
For general information on CSO statistics: (+353) 21 453 5000 On-line ISSN 2009-7076
CSO statistical release, , 11am

Prison Recidivism

2010 cohort

Offender numbers classified by whether there was a re-offence within three years, 2010 cohort
  Reoffence within three yearsRecidivism1 rate
Total offenders4,2085,1319,33945.1
All persons age group    
<21 years5305351,06549.8
1 See Background Notes.

45% of prisoners released in 2010 reoffended within three years

Recidivism rates by age and sex, 2010 cohort
go to full release

This release examines the reoffending behaviour of prisoners released from the custody of the Irish Prison Service in 2010, based on crime incident and court conviction data up to the end of 2015.

The rate of reoffending, or recidivism, for prisoners released in 2010 was 45.1%, a decrease of 2.4% on the previous year’s figure. The rate of recidivism was higher for males (46.0%) than for females (37.8%) and was generally higher for prisoners released at a younger age, with 49.8% in the ‘under 21’ age category reoffending compared to 29.4% in the ’51 and over’ age category. Individuals who had been imprisoned for Burglary and related offences showed the highest rate of recidivism (68.6%). See Table 1

For the purposes of the release recidivism is defined as an individual committing a criminal offence (a ‘re-offence’) within a three year period following their release from prison and being subsequently convicted for that offence. The CSO used a matching process to match prisoners released in 2010 to crime incident and court outcome datasets in order to identify re-offences and re-convictions. Further detail regarding the methods used to measure recidivism in this release is provided in the Background Notes.

The CSO resumed publication of Recorded Crime statistics in June 2015, following a comprehensive review of the quality of Garda Síochana crime data and on foot of the Garda Inspectorate report on Crime Investigation (11th November 2014). The latest CSO review on the quality of PULSE data was published on 28th September 2016 (link below). When interpreting Recorded Crime statistics (including recidivism) the CSO advises that the findings of these reviews should be taken into account.

Recidivism down among younger offenders 

The overall recidivism rate for the 2010 cohort was 45.1%, a decrease of 2.4% from 47.5% in 2009. Male reoffending fell from 48.2% to 46.0% while the rate for females fell from 41.2% to 37.8%. See table 1.

The rate of recidivism among prisoners in younger age groups decreased compared to the previous release (54.4% to 49.8%, down 4.6% among those under 21) while the rate among older prisoners increased (24.8% to 29.4%, up 4.6% among those aged 51 and overs). This characteristic was observed in both male and female cohorts. The contrast was particularly apparent among female offenders where recidivism among under 21s fell nearly 13% while recidivism for those aged 51 and over rose almost 9%. 

Reoffending rates disaggregated by the initial imprisonment offences are also shown in Table 1. The highest rates of recidivism were among prisoners whose initial offence was in Group 6 Robbery, extortion and hijacking offences, Group 7 Burglary and related offences and Group 8 Theft and related offences. Recidivism in each of these groups was measured at over 60%, as was the case in the previous year.  

Type of reoffending 

Most re-offences following imprisonment fell into either Group 13 Public Order and Other Social Code Offences (34.2%), Group 08 Theft and Related Offences (17.9%) or Group 10 Controlled Drug Offences (13.4%). See table 2.

Most reoffenders were convicted for offences which fell into a different crime group than their initial imprisonment offence. 21.9% were convicted for offences of the same crime type.  

Majority of reoffences occur within six months of release 

Of the 4,208 individuals who were found to have reoffended 60.8% offended within six months their official release date and an additional 16.7% within one year. See table 3.

The time taken to reoffend was shorter among younger offenders. In the under 21 age category, the reoffending rate was 49.8%, but of those who did reoffend 94.2% had done so within one year. The figure fell to 67.2% among reoffenders aged 51 and over.

Table 1 Offender numbers classified by sex, age group, initial imprisonment offence and whether there was a re-offence within three years, 2009 and 2010 cohort
2009 cohort 2010 cohort  
Re-offence withinRecidivism1Re-offence within Recidivism Recidivism
three yearsrate three years rate rate
YesNoTotal% YesNoTotal % change
Total offenders3,5633,9447,50747.54,2085,1319,339 45.1 - 2.4
 Male3,2543,5036,75748.23,7944,4518,245 46.0 - 2.1
Female30944175041.24146801,094 37.8 - 3.4
Male age group         
<21 years46537684155.3502472974 51.5 - 3.8
21-251,0278671,89454.21,1661,0632,229 52.3 - 1.9
26-306897121,40149.27839191,702 46.0 - 3.2
31-3544451796146.25386411,179 45.6 - 0.6
36-4027034361344.0344468812 42.4 - 1.7
41-5028644573139.1350593943 37.1 - 2.0
51+7324331623.1111295406 27.3 +4.2
Female age group         
<21 years31407143.7286391 30.8 - 12.9
21-259910019949.7104171275 37.8 - 11.9
26-306310016338.791162253 36.0 - 2.7
31-35547112543.279111190 41.6 - 1.6
36-4027487536.05471125 43.2 +7.2
41-5024709425.54189130 31.5 +6.0
51+11122347.8 171330 56.7 +8.8
All persons age group         
 <21 years49641691254.45305351,065 49.8 - 4.6
 21-251,1269672,09353.81,2701,2342,504 50.7 - 3.1
 26-307528121,56448.18741,0811,955 44.7 - 3.4
 31-354985881,08645.96177521,369 45.1 - 0.8
36-4029739168843.2398539937 42.5 - 0.7
41-5031051582537.63916821,073 36.4 - 1.1
51+8425533924.8 128308436 29.4 +4.6
Initial Imprisonment offence         
01 Homicide offences12253732.492231 29.0 - 3.4
02 Sexual offences19719021.1127486 14.0 - 7.2
03 Attempts/Threats to murder,            
     assaults, harassments and      
     related offences25619945556.3308233541 56.9 +0.7
04 Dangerous or negligent acts29251680836.1315590905 34.8 - 1.3
 05 Kidnapping and related offences751258.3347 42.9 - 15.5
06 Robbery, extortion and      
     hijacking offences25133865.8291443 67.4 +1.7
07 Burglary and related offences1285518369.915772229 68.6 - 1.4
 08 Theft and related offences48125273365.6570333903 63.1 - 2.5
 09 Fraud, deception and related      
      offences4111015127.259132191 30.9 +3.7
10 Controlled drug offences22826048846.7319366685 46.6 - 0.2
11 Weapons and explosives offences995615563.911285197 56.9 - 7.0
12 Damage to property and      
     to the environment19812832660.7234164398 58.8 - 1.9
13 Public order and other social     
     code offences7164671,18360.57895731,362 57.9 - 2.6
14 Road and traffic offences (NEC)5431,2881,83129.77541,9622,716 27.8 - 1.9
15 Offences against Government,    
     justice procedures and organisation            
     of crime37324361660.6457338795 57.5 - 3.1
 16 Offences not elsewhere classified14525640136.281169250 32.4- 3.8
1 See Background Notes.
Table 2 Re-offender numbers classified by initial imprisonment offence and subsequent re-offence, 2010 cohort
   Subsequent re-offence    
   HomicideSexualAttempts/DangerousKidnappingRobbery, BurglaryTheftFraud, ControlledWeaponsDamagePublicOffencesOffences  
    offencesoffencesThreatsorandextortion andanddeception drug andtoorderagainstnot  
     to murder,negligentrelatedand relatedrelatedand offences explosivespropertyand Government,elsewhere  
      assaults,actsoffenceshijacking  offences offencesrelated offencesand otherjusticeclassified  
     harassments  offences  offences  to thesocialprocedures   
     and         environmentcodeand   
     related         offencesOrganisation   
     offences          of Crime  Total
Total re-offenders 57171416390255755455641151531,43918010 4,208
Initial Imprisonment offence                   
 01 Homicide offences 000010010200410 9
 02 Sexual offences 010200000211320 12
 03 Attempts/Threats to murder, assaults, harassments and related offences 0023380617405361210109120 308
 04 Dangerous or negligent acts 001367041047242106102111 315
 05 Kidnapping and related offences 000000010000200 3
 06 Robbery, extortion and hijacking offences 0002031701000600 29
 07 Burglary and related offences 0035033829115564480 157
 08 Theft and related offences 021522117521928511222144302 570
 09 Fraud, deception and related offences 1017006875441510 59
 10 Controlled drug offences 1015200621442100788951 319
 11 Weapons and explosives offences 00108051117013662970 112
 12 Damage to property and to the environment011316041945019101282121 234
 13 Public order and other social code offences22314711424864751831427270 789
 14 Road and traffic offences (NEC) 113514001631122111381918200193 754
 15 Offences against Government, justice procedures and organisation of crime 0072901119105448825154452457
 16 Offences not elsewhere classified005130161118342900 81
Table 3 Re-offender numbers classified by time period to first re-offence, sex and age group, 2010 cohort
  Reoffended Time period to first re-offence Did not reoffend Total
    < 6 months1 6<12  12<18  18<24  24<36     
Total re-offenders4,208 2,561 703 393 257 294 5,131 9,339
 Male3,794 2,304 630 360 232 268 4,451 8,245
 Female414 257 73 33 25 26 680 1,094
Male age group               
 <21 years502 408 64 18 9 3 472 974
 21-251,166 739 188 97 76 66 1,063 2,229
 26-30783 420 145 86 54 78 919 1,702
 31-35538 303 94 56 39 46 641 1,179
 36-40344 186 70 42 20 26 468 812
 41-50350 195 47 47 25 36 593 943
 51+111 53 22 14 9 13 295 406
Female age group               
 <21 years28 26 1 1 0 0 63 91
 21-25104 73 22 4 1 4 171 275
 26-3091 51 13 12 9 6 162 253
 31-3579 48 16 4 5 6 111 190
 36-4054 31 9 6 4 4 71 125
 41-5041 21 8 5 3 4 89 130
 51+17 7 4 1 3 2 13 30
All persons age group               
 <21 years530 434 65 19 9 3 535 1,065
 21-251,270 812 210 101 77 70 1,234 2,504
 26-30874 471 158 98 63 84 1,081 1,955
 31-35617 351 110 60 44 52 752 1,369
 36-40398 217 79 48 24 30 539 937
 41-50391 216 55 52 28 40 682 1,073
 51+128 60 26 15 12 15 308 436
1 Includes those who re-offended before official release date.

Background Notes


The Prison Recidivism, 2010 release provides figures for the re-offending rates of those released from the custody of the Irish Prison Service in 2010.  These figures were produced using a combination of Garda Síochána and Prison Service records, based on the Irish Crime Classification System (ICCS).

The term “offences” in this report refers only to crime incidents known to An Garda Síochána and recorded as such in the Garda PULSE (Police Using Leading Systems Effectively) system.  Because of timing issues with respect to the extraction of data, figures may be revised subsequent to this publication. 

Data collection

The production of these statistics involved the combination of Garda PULSE and Prison PRIS (Prison Computer System) data.  Since there is no direct link between the two systems, a statistical matching protocol was devised by the CSO to match Prison and Garda records.  For this report, prison releases from 2010 were linked from Prison PRIS to their corresponding entries in the Garda PULSE system.  Numerous quality control tests were then conducted to verify the accuracy of this matching system, in addition to various consultations with academics specializing in criminology.   


For this report, a re-offender is defined as an individual who committed a recorded offence within three years of prison release date; and who is subsequently convicted in court proceedings.  For example, if a person is released on December 31st 2010, and committed an offence on the December 31st 2013, they would be considered as having reoffended within three years if the court proceedings lead to a conviction. Offences such as some road traffic offences are not included in the definition of recidivism.

Court proceedings leading to a conviction

From Garda PULSE, the court date is used to mark the commencement of criminal proceedings. Court proceedings leading to a conviction do not include those cases where appeals are pending.  The fact that an individual is suspected of committing an offence is not enough evidence for re-offender status to be designated; a conviction must have been secured.

Crime recording

Incidents reported or which become known to members of An Garda Síochána are recorded when, on the balance of probability, a Garda determines that a criminal offence defined by law has taken place, and there is no credible evidence to the contrary.  If it is subsequently determined that a criminal offence did not take place, the criminal offence recorded is invalidated and is not counted in the statistics.  If a person makes a report and subsequently withdraws it by stating that the criminal act did not take place, then this too is invalidated unless there is evidence to suggest that, by reasonable probability, the offence has taken place.

For criminal offences where victim confirmation is required (e.g. assault, fraud), a criminal offence is recorded only where the victim confirms the offence or where there is evidence to suggest that by reasonable probability it occurred. Another important feature of a recorded offence is that it is based on the date reported to, or that it became known to, the Gardaí.  This has major implications for some offence types.  Notable amongst these are sexual offences, as it has often been the case that such incidents have been reported to An Garda Síochána many years (sometimes decades) after the event(s).  Thus a sexual assault, which occurred in 1960, would be included in the statistics for 2009 if it was first reported in that year. 

Crime Classification

A criminal offence is classified as a particular offence type at the initial recording of that offence.  However, upon investigation, it may later become apparent that an alternative offence type should be used.  In this event, the record is amended to reflect this.  Re-classification on the basis of court proceedings only occurs in relation to homicide offences.  A murder offence is reclassified as manslaughter when a charge of manslaughter commences or when a murder charge results in a conviction for manslaughter.  It is also possible, though more rare, that an incident originally classified as manslaughter may be re-classified as murder.  Also, a re-classification to a homicide offence occurs when, for example, a serious assault has been recorded and, some time later, the victim dies as a consequence of the assault. 

General Counting Rules

Crime counting rules are applied to all criminal offences for the purposes of the statistics.  The following are the main rules relevant to the quarterly figures: 

Primary Offence Rule: Where two or more criminal offences are disclosed in a single episode, it is the primary criminal offence that is counted.  The primary offence is that offence which the greater penalty may apply.  Where offences have similar penalties, offences against the person take precedence over offences against property for the purpose of determining the primary offence. 

One Offence Counts Per Victim: One offence counts per victim involved with the exceptions of cheque/credit card fraud and burglary.  Under certain circumstances, the cheque/credit card exception necessitates that a series of these offences counts as one crime where the originating bank ultimately suffers the loss.  The burglary exception dictates that one burglary offence is counted where property belonging to two or more victims is stolen (or damaged) during a single burglary. 

Continuous Series Involving the Same Victim and Same Offender: A continuous series of offences against the same victim involving the same offender counts as one offence.

    ICCSq Offence Groups
01 Homicide offences Murder
    Manslaughter (traffic fatality)
    Dangerous driving causing death
02 Sexual offences Rape of a male or female
    Rape Section 4
    Unlawful carnal knowledge / Criminal law 
     (Sexual Offences Act) 2006
    Sexual offence involving mentally 
      impaired person
    Aggravated sexual assault
    Sexual assault 
    Child pornography offences
    Child pornography – obstruction of warrant
    Gross indecency
03 Attempts or threats to murder, assaults, harassments and related offences Murder-attempt
  Assault causing harm
    Assault or obstruction of Garda/official,
     resisting arrest
    Minor assault
    Harassment, stalking, threats
    Demanding payment of debt causing alarm
    Housing Act
    Menacing phone calls
    Incitement to hatred offences
04  Dangerous or  Dangerous driving causing serious bodily
  negligent acts  harm
    Driving/In charge of a vehicle while over
     legal alcohol limit
    Driving/In charge of a vehicle under the 
     influence of drugs
    Endangerment with potential for serious 
     harm or death
    Abandoning a child, child neglect and 
    Unseaworthy/dangerous use of boat or 
    False alarm/interference with aircraft or 
     air transport facilities
    Endangering traffic offences
05 Kidnapping and  False imprisonment
  related offences Abduction of person under 16 years of 
    Human trafficking offences
06 Robbery, extortion Robbery of an establishment or institution
  and hijacking Robbery of cash or goods in transit
  offences Robbery from the person
    Blackmail or extortion
    Carjacking, hijacking/unlawful seizure of 
07 Burglary and  Aggravated burglary
  related offences Burglary (not aggravated)
    Possession of an article 
     (with intent to burgle, steal, demand)
08 Theft and related Theft/Unauthorised taking of vehicle
  offences Interfering with vehicle (with intent to 
    steal item or vehicle)
    Theft from person
    Theft from shop
    Theft from vehicle
    Theft/ Unauthorised taking of a pedal
    Theft of, or interference with, mail
    Handling or possession of stolen property
    Theft of other property
09 Fraud, deception and related offences Fraud, deception, false pretence offences
  Forging an instrument to defraud
    Possession of an article for use in fraud, deception or extortion
    Falsification of accounts
    Offences under the Companies Act
    Offences under the Investment Intermediaries Act 
    Offences under the Stock Exchange Act
    Money laundering
    Fraud against the European Union
    Importation/Sale/Supply of tobacco
    Counterfeiting notes and coins
    Counterfeiting of goods
    Bad debts criminal (Debtors Ireland)
    Corruption (involving public office holder)
10 Controlled drug  Importation of drugs
   offences Cultivation or manufacture of drugs
    Possession of drugs for sale or supply
    Possession of drugs for personal use
    Forged or altered prescription offences
    Obstruction under the Drugs Act
11 Weapons and  Causing an explosion
  explosives offences Making of explosives
    Possession of explosives
    Chemical weapons offences
    Discharging a firearm
    Possession of a firearm
    Possession of offensive weapons 
     (not firearms)
    Fireworks offences (for sale, igniting etc.)
12 Damage to property and to the environment Arson
  Criminal damage (not arson)
    Litter offences
13 Public order and other social code offences Affray/Riot/Violent disorder
  Public order offences
    Drunkenness offences
    Air rage-disruptive or drunken behaviour 
     on aircraft
    Forcible entry and occupation 
     (not burglary)
    Trespass on lands or enclosed areas
    Liquor licensing offences
    Registered clubs offences
    Special restaurant offences
    Provision of intoxicating liquor to under 18 year olds
    Purchase or consumption of alcohol by under 18 year olds
    Sale of intoxicating liquor to under 18 year olds
    Brothel keeping
    Organisation of prostitution
    Prostitution, including soliciting etc.
    Offences under the Betting Acts
    Collecting money without permit, 
    unauthorised collection
    Offences under Gaming and Lotteries Acts
    Permit/License offences for casual/street 
    Allowing a child (under 16 years) to beg
14 Road and traffic offences (NEC) Driving licence-failure to have, produce, etc.
  Insurance-failure to have, produce, display, etc.
    No tax, non-display of tax, unregistered vehicle etc.
    Misuse of Trade Licence
    Misuse of trailers, weight and other offences
    Obstruction under road traffic acts
    Other road offences
    Road tranport - carriage of goods offences
    Public service vehicle offences
    Light rail offences (Luas)
15 Offences against Government, justice procedures and organisation of crime Treason
  Breaches of Offences Against the State
  Breaches of Official Secrets Act
    Impersonating member of An Garda 
    Electoral offences including personation
    Public mischief-annoying phone calls, 
     wasting police time
    Criminal Assets Bureau offences
    Non compliance with Garda direction
    Criminal organisation offences
     (organised crime)
    Conspiracy to commit a crime
    Interfering with a jury (embracery) 
    Assisting offenders
    Public mischief, pervert course of justice, conceal offence
    Escape or help to escape from custody
    Prison offences
    Breach of Domestic Violence Order 
     (protection, safety, barring)
    Breach of order under Family Law Act
    Breach of bail
    Failure to comply under Sex Offenders Act
    Other failure to comply with court order, jury summons, warrant etc.


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