117 in NMD referred to Youth Justice Services

Peter Bayne

Reporter:

Peter Bayne

Email:

peter.bayne@newrydemocrat.com

IN the past year (2020/21) thirteen children in Newry, Mourne and Down were placed in custody.

During that same period a total of 117 individuals in NMD were referred to Youth Justice Services.

This total is the third highest in Northern Ireland behind Belfast and Derry/Strabane.

These figures are included in the Northern Ireland Youth Justice Agency Annual Workload Statistics 2020/21 published on Thursday.

This report provides an overview of the workload provided by the Youth Justice Services (YJS) and Custodial Services (Woodland

In 2020/21, 89 (82.4%) of the 108 children in custody were aged 15 and over, a decrease from 2019/20 (108, 85.7%) and the lowest proportion over the five year period.

While the proportion of 16 year old individuals (26.9%) showed an increase on 2019/20 (22.2%), the proportion of 15 year olds and 17 year olds decreased to 20.4% and 35.2% respectively (2019/20: 26.2%, 37.3%).

There were 9 (8.3%) children in custody aged 10 to 13, an increase from 6 (4.8%) in 2019/20 (Figure 12; Table 16, Appendix 3). The number of children in custody aged 14 has ranged from 10 to 18 over the five year period with a proportion between 6.3% and 10.8%. The proportion of children in custody aged 14 in 2020/21 was 9.3%This ensures that consistent data can be produced on an annual basis for comparison purposes. This will also facilitate comparison with other data sources such as PSNI recorded crime information or NI population data. The publication continues to provide descriptive analysis of trends on a range of demographics, including some Section 75 characteristics and care information. This publication includes a ‘YJA Insight’ section which provides some management information which has not been subject to full official statistics validation and is therefore subject to change. The main findings of this report are presented below.

The number of referrals to the YJS in 2020/21 was 1,276, a decrease of 21.8% from 2019/20 (1,631).

Diversionary referrals (45.6%; 582) accounted for the largest proportion of all referrals in 2020/21, followed by Court Ordered (22.8%; 291) and Earlier Stage Diversions (20.2%; 258).

The number of individuals referred to YJS in 2020/21 (831) decreased by 13.2% from the previous year (957).

The total number of individuals in custody decreased by 14.3% (126, 2019/20; 108, 2020/21).

As in previous years males accounted for the majority of YJS referrals (74.5%) and of children referred to YJS (77.7%) and in custody (79.6%).

During 2020/21, 72.7% of total referrals and 72.6% of individuals referred to YJS were aged 15 and over; the corresponding figure for children in custody was 82.4%.

Three out of five children in custody in 2020/21 were Catholic (59.3%); 17.6% were Protestant.

In 2020/21, 35.2% of children in custody were in care (25.0% subject to a care order; 10.2% were voluntary accommodated).

In terms of local government district, Belfast had the highest number of YJS referrals (294) and admissions to custody (83). Belfast also had the highest number of children referred to YJS (206) or in custody (29). Regarding children in custody, Derry City and Strabane had the highest rate per 1000 at 1.4.

In 2020/21 there was a total of 3,896 days of custody provided by the JJC, 36.9% lower than in 2019/20 (6,177) and 50.9% lower than in 2016/17 (7,935). Of these days 6.1% were for PACE, 86.1% for remand and 7.8% for sentence.

The total number of admissions to the JJC was 9.7% lower in 2020/21 (269) than in 2019/20 (298). Overall movements within the JJC, that is new admissions plus internal changes of status, such as PACE to Remand, was 8.4% lower in 2020/21 (381) than in the previous year (416).

Of the 916 statutory referrals during 2020/21, the highest proportion involved violence against the person (31.9%; 292).

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