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Probation body notes community-service drop

19 Oct 2023 / justice Print

Probation body notes community-service drop

The director of the Probation Service has acknowledged a “notable reduction” in community-service assessment referrals last year.

Writing in the service’s annual report for 2022, Mark Wilson said that the organisation had made “concerted efforts” to address this through a review of community service late last year.

The review identifies opportunities to increase awareness, strengthen partnerships and enhance the model of community service in Ireland.

Court referrals up

The report shows that the courts referred just over 8,600 people to the Probation Service last year – up from 8,200 in 2021.

The total number of reports considering community service, however, fell by more than 15% to 1,692.

The service made 7,496 supervision orders during the year. While the total represented an increase on 2021, the number of community-service orders fell from 1,360 to 1,288.

Drugs offences top list

A breakdown of new court referrals showed that 84% were male, while the highest number of referrals came in the male 25-34 age category.

Drugs offences were the main reason that offenders were referred to the service last year. Just over 20% of referrals were in this category, with 18% linked to assault and almost 16% to theft.

Wilson said that attracting new staff, particularly qualified social workers, remained difficult. It recruited 46 new staff during the year, but 40 staff also left, leaving a total workforce of 421 by the end of the year.

Gazette Desk
Gazette.ie is the daily legal news site of the Law Society of Ireland