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Background Information on Northern Ireland Society - Law and Order



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Text: Martin Melaugh ... Research: Fionnuala McKenna
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Law and Order

This section deals specifically with the issue of Law and Order from a non-political perspective. For information relating to law and order and the political situation in Northern Ireland, the reader may wish to consult the section on Security.

  • General issues of law and order are upheld by the police force in Northern Ireland, the Royal Ulster Constabulary. This force came into existence in 1922, and its membership today stands at 8,489 plus a further 4,967 full and part-time reserves, bringing this to a grand total of 13,486. In proportionate terms this is considerably higher than anywhere else in the UK. It represents a ratio of one police officer per 140 civilians, as opposed to 1:434 in England, 1:359 in Scotland and 1:459 in Wales.

  • On the whole, the overall level of crime in Northern Ireland is significantly lower than that in England, Scotland or Wales, and in 1995, notifiable offences (per 100,000 population) in Northern Ireland were less than half of that recorded in England and Wales. There were however three categories in which Northern Ireland had a higher rate of offenders than any of the other areas. These categories are sexual offences, fraud and forgery and 'other' offences. Northern Ireland also has a high proportion of burglaries (although proportionately fewer than England and Wales) and in 1995, these accounted for almost three quarters of all recorded crime in Northern Ireland.

  • The number of drugs related offences in Northern Ireland has been increasing steadily and rapidly over the past number of years, with the number of arrests for drugs charges having more than tripled in the five years between 1990 and 1995. Having said this however, these figures are still dramatically lower than the figures for any other part of the United Kingdom or the Republic of Ireland.

  • In terms of offences cleared up, Northern Ireland has a higher percentage of crimes solved or cleared up than the rest of the UK. In 1995, the clear-up rate for crime in Northern Ireland was 36 per cent, while England and Wales had an average clear-up rate of only 26 per cent.

  • The numbers of young offenders in Northern Ireland has decreased dramatically over the past ten or so years. The overall figure for offences caused by juveniles in 1985 was 1,523 but by 1994, this figure had fallen to 879. The age group which represents the greatest number of overall offenders, is the 21-29 age bracket, and for every age bracket there are consistently more male offenders than female.

Sources:
The following tables provide further details regarding employment and unemployment in Northern Ireland. Much of this material has been taken from the Northern Ireland Annual Abstract of Statistics (1996), Regional Trends (1996), Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agengy: Focus on Northern Ireland (1997), and the Irish Almanac and Yearbook of Facts (1997).






Notifiable Offences Known and Cleared by the Police in Northern Ireland, 1995 and 1996

.
1996
1995
.
Total offences recorded
Total offences cleared
Total offences recorded
Total offences cleared
Offences against the person
5,640
3,572
5,150
3,446
Sexual Offences
1,745
1,484
1,679
1,369
Burglaries
16,114
2,908
16,457
3,194
Robberies
1,725
281
1,539
298
Thefts
32,772
9,455
33,472
10,526
Frauds and Forgeries
4,081
2,617
4,884
3,060
Criminal Damage
4,847
1,332
3,772
1,232
Offences against the state
400
322
339
305
Other Notifiable Offences
1,225
1,132
1,516
1,408
Grand Totals
68,549
23,103
68,808
24,838

(Source: Chief Constable's Annual Report, 1996)





Notifiable Offences Recorded by the Police and Cleared Up: Northern Ireland, England and Wales


.
Offences Recorded
(per 100,000 population)
Offences Cleared-Up (%)
.
Northern Ireland
England and Wales
Northern Ireland
England and Wales
.
1985
1995
1985
1995
1995
1995
Violence against the Person
183
312
245
412
67
77
Sexual Offences
42
102
43
59
82
76
Burglary
1,301
998
1,742
2,401
19
21
Robbery
116
93
55
132
19
23
Theft and handling stolen goods
1,893
2,030
3,786
4,750
31
23
Fraud and Forgery
237
296
271
258
63
50
Criminal damage
205
229
1,083
1,355
33
19
Other offences
68
112
34
98
92
96
Total Offences
4,046
4,173
7,259
9,465
36
26

(Source: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, Focus on Northern Ireland, 1997)

Please note: Figures for Scotland are not comparable due to the fact that the legal system there differs from the rest of the UK.





Drugs Offences and Arrests in Northern Ireland, 1990-1995

.
Offences
Arrests
Persons Proceeded Against
1990
-
429
122
1991
287
453
162
1992
619
610
294
1993
811
976
454
1994
1,286
1,196
538
1995
1,426
1,558
739

(Source: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, Focus on Northern Ireland, 1997)





Seizures of controlled Drugs, 1994: A comparison with England, Scotland and Wales (Rates per 100,000 population)

.
Class A Drugs
Class B Drugs
.
Heroin
Cocaine
LSD
MDMA (Ecstasy)
All class A drugs
Cannabis
Amphet-
amines
All class B drugs
England
3,838
2,872
1,769
2,932
11,833
73,227
10,853
80,276
Wales
148
37
181
109
578
4,944
749
5,386
Scotland
487
79
258
341
1,208
9,503
1,222
10,302
Northern Ireland
5
4
76
189
245
792
130
868

(Source: Office for National Statistics, Regional Trends, 1997, p.144)





Persons found guilty, cautioned or dealt with by compounding for drug offences: by type of drug, 1994. A comparison of Northern Ireland, England, Scotland and Wales.
(Rates per 100,000 population)

.
Class A Drugs
Class B Drugs
.
.
Heroin
Cocaine
LSD
MDMA (Ecstasy)
Cannabis
Ampheta
-mines
All Drugs
Northern Ireland
-
-
-
-
2
-
3
England
6
3
3
4
132
15
155
Scotland
3
-
4
2
71
13
88
Wales
3
5
4
1
152
19
172

(Source: Office for National Statistics, Regional Trends, 1996, p.144)






Police Manpower: by type, 1994-1995

..
Police Officers on ordinary duty
(% of which)
.
.
Special Constables and civilian staff (rates per 1,000 officers on ordinary duty)
.
.
Number
Ethnic
Minorities
Women
Officers
Population per Officer
Hectares per Officer
Special Constables
Civilian
Staff
Traffic Wardens
(Numbers)
Northern Ireland
11,692
-
8.5
140
121
128
235
152
England
118,827
1.8
14.7
434
110
159
411
4,526
Scotland
14,313
0.2
11.7
359
539
138
259
535
Wales
6,353
0.6
10.9
459
327
194
348
168

(Source: Office for National Statistics, Regional Trends, 1996, p.146)





Young Offenders: Juveniles found guilty by offence group and disposal, 1985-1994

.19851986 19871988 198919901991 19921993 1994
Indictable Offences
Burglary and Robbery
469
385
285
270
239
242
201
172
159
189
Fraud
12
10
21
6
10
10
10
16
14
14
Theft and Unauthorised Taking
390
487
421
417
291
289
296
224
252
249
Handling Stolen Goods
28
43
14
40
17
40
32
23
28
34
Sexual Offences
7
22
12
15
14
17
8
11
7
8
Offences against the Person
26
47
55
57
33
44
38
46
43
49
Other Offences
54
175
175
144
148
106
108
96
97
131
All Indictable Offences
921
1,169
983
909
752
748
693
588
600
674
Non-indictable Offences
Assaults
105
94
78
80
82
59
53
55
63
68
Offences connected with Motor Vehicles
213
370
128
100
81
92
71
40
44
74
Malicious Damage
120
28
29
9
10
9
3
2
1
2
Disorderly Behaviour
127
123
90
49
47
47
41
36
28
31
Other Offences
61
82
66
52
47
23
14
19
33
30
All Non-indictable Offences
602
697
391
290
267
230
182
152
169
205
Disposal by Courts
Absolute Discharge
24
40
23
19
12
15
10
9
4
9
Conditional Discharge
449
454
375
266
215
221
222
209
258
241
Fine
282
548
270
205
174
135
91
79
52
66
Probation Order
294
304
221
255
213
229
174
171
165
198
Training School Order
189
259
223
170
173
144
174
119
118
187
Remand Home Order
21
16
3
3
2
8
10
2
1
2
Young Offenders Centre[1]
-
-
-
-
-
-
31
32
23
30
Community Service Order[2]
-
-
-
-
-
-
27
22
20
23
Otherwise dealt with
264
245
259
281
230
226
136
97
128
123
All Offences
1,523
1,866
1,374
1,199
1,019
978
875
740
769
879

(Source: Northern Ireland Annual Abstract of Statistics, 1996)

[1] Applicable to 16 year olds from 30 October 1989
[2] Included in the 'otherwise dealt with' category until 1991




Persons found Guilty of Indictable Offences: by Offence Group and Age (1994)

(a) Found Guilty at Magistrates' Courts
(a) Found Guilty at Crown Courts

(a) Found Guilty at Magistrates' Courts

.
Age
.
Offence Group
<14
14-16
17-20
21-29
30-49
>50
Age unknown
All ages
Males
Offences against the person
-
33
225
502
310
19
8
1,097
Sexual Offences
-
6
14
20
97
14
-
81
Burglary
39
131
292
259
129
6
11
867
Robbery
-
7
3
-
-
-
-
10
Theft and handling stolen goods
28
214
632
866
519
76
16
2,351
Fraud and Forgery
2
10
88
182
122
18
-
422
Criminal Damage
17
92
313
345
191
25
11
994
Others
-
14
164
324
123
16
4
645
All Males
86
507
1,731
2,498
1,421
174
50
6,467
Females
Offences against the person
1
6
17
36
22
1
2
85
Sexual Offences
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Burglary
1
6
7
12
1
-
-
27
Robbery
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
-
Theft and handling stolen goods
8
30
123
153
186
33
4
537
Fraud and Forgery
-
2
24
32
39
2
-
99
Criminal Damage
1
7
14
23
21
1
1
68
Others
-
-
6
18
11
-
-
35
All Females
11
51
191
274
280
37
7
851
All Persons
97
558
1,922
2,772
1,701
211
57
7,318

(b) Found Guilty at Crown Courts

.
Age
.
Offence Group
<14
14-16
17-20
21-29
30-49
>50
Age unknown
All ages
Males
Offences against the person
-
5
60
146
83
7
-
301
Sexual Offences
-
2
8
15
25
16
-
65
Burglary
-
2
22
34
22
2
-
82
Robbery
-
2
41
89
24
-
-
156
Theft and handling stolen goods
-
3
20
40
58
12
2
135
Fraud and Forgery
-
-
2
8
24
5
1
40
Criminal Damage
-
-
15
32
22
1
-
70
Others
-
-
16
51
40
4
-
111
All Males
-
14
186
415
298
47
3
961
Females
Offences against the person
-
4
2
4
3
1
1
15
Sexual Offences
-
-
-
-
1
-
-
1
Burglary
-
1
-
2
-
-
-
3
Robbery
-
-
1
1
-
-
-
2
Theft and handling stolen goods
-
-
1
7
9
4
-
21
Fraud and Forgery
-
-
-
2
4
1
-
7
Criminal Damage
-
-
-
1
1
-
-
2
Others
-
-
1
11
3
-
1
15
All Females
-
5
5
28
21
6
4
66
All Persons
-
19
189
443
319
53
4
1,027

(Source: Northern Ireland Annual Abstract of Statistics, 1996)



Persons sentenced for indictable offences: by disposal, 1995

.
Crown Court
Magistrates
.
Northern Ireland
(%)
England and Wales
(%)
Northern Ireland
(%)
England and Wales
(%)
Discharge
6
5
16
23
Fine
2
5
29
37
Any Community Sentence[1]
10
30
18
28
Suspended Sentence
28
3
18
-
Immediate Custodial Sentence
53
56
17
9
Otherwise Dealt With[2]
-
3
1
2
All Persons Sentenced (number)
1,157
71,570
7,576
230,289

[1] Includes probation, community service, supervision and attendance centre orders as well as combination orders in England and Wales only
[2] Includes Section 53 of the Children and Young Persons Act 1933 (England and Wales)

(Source: Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency, Focus on Northern Ireland, 1997)



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