Number of out-of-court disposals falls for sixth consecutive year

The number of out-of-court disposals handed down in Northern Ireland, typically to low-level or first-time offenders, has fallen for a sixth consecutive year.

Out-of-court disposals include cautionary disposals, informed warnings, completion of PPS-ordered youth conferencing plans and resolution through the community-based restorative justice scheme.

There were 5,462 out-of-court disposals in 2019, representing an eight per cent decrease from the previous year and around a 30 per cent decrease since 2013 to reach a six-year low.

The number of penalty notices for disorder (PNDs), which were introduced in June 2012, fell by 19 per cent on the previous year, and the number of cautions issued fell by six per cent.

However, the number of PPS-ordered youth conference plans rose by just under two per cent, and the number of informed warnings issued rose by four per cent.

The figures are included in the Department of Justice’s latest research and statistical bulletin on court prosecutions, convictions and out-of-court disposals in Northern Ireland.