First Time Entrants to the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland 2020/21

The Department of Justice (DoJ) today published the Research and Statistical Bulletin ‘First Time Entrants to the Criminal Justice System in Northern Ireland 2020/21’. It is an Official Statistics Publication.

The bulletin presents information on first time entrants (or, disposals relating to first offences) to the criminal justice system disaggregated by age, gender, offence category and disposal type for 2020/21.  The key findings were as follows:



  • In 2020/21, 21,437 offences were recorded as dealt with by conviction or diversion in the justice system in Northern Ireland. Of these, 22.4% (4,799) were first offences. The comparative figure for 2019/20 was 26.8%.
  • Of first offences, 28.9% (1,389) were dealt with by formal diversionary disposal and 71.1% (3,410) by conviction.



  • Of all first time entrants in 2020/21, 7.6% (367) were aged 10 to 17 and 28.8% (1,382) were aged 18 to 24.
  • Those aged 10 to 17 were most likely (92.4%, 339 out of 367) to receive a diversion for a first offence. 71.7% (200) first time entrants aged 60 and over received a conviction.
  • Of all offences committed by males[1] and dealt with by conviction or diversion, 19.4% (3,414) were first offences; the comparative figure for females was 35.8% (1,385).



  • Over half, 60.0% (2,880) of all first offences in 2020/21 were motoring offences. Of all instances where a conviction or diversion was issued for offences in that category, 34.9% were for first offences.
  • Monetary disposals made up 60.4% (2,900) of all disposals for first offences in 2020/21. First offences accounted for 29.2% of all instances where a monetary penalty was imposed in relation to a conviction or diversion.
  • Of all instances where imprisonment was imposed as a penalty, first offences accounted for only 2.7% (67 out of 2,491).
  • First offences accounted for 44.7% (1,389) of all instances where a diversionary disposal was issued. Of first offences dealt with by diversion, 76.3% (1,060) were dealt with by way of caution. However, while 44.7% of all cautions were for first offences, 73.1% (190) of all informed warnings issued were for first offences.


[1] Figures for Males also include organisations, transgender and gender not specified, due to the small numbers involved.


To view the bulletin and other documents, please click here.