Select Committee on Northern Ireland Affairs Minutes of Evidence

Further supplementary memorandum submitted by the Northern Ireland Office

  You recently requested further statistical information on convictions.

  I understand that the Home Office has already replied to you separately on this matter in response to the Committee's request (referred to in paragraph 435 of the relevant transcript) and supplied you with figures for convictions in Northern Ireland in 1998.

  Unfortunately, we are not able to provide more up to date statistics, as our source of information is the same (the NIO Statistics and Research Branch) and the figures for 1998 are the most recent reliable information that they have.

  The reason the figures are so out of date is that PSNI, upon whom the NIO Statistics and Research Branch depends for information on court activity, began storing court activity data on a new computer system on 1 January 2000. NIO Statistics and Research Branch are currently developing a new database to store this new-format information, but sadly, this has proved to be a very complex undertaking. I have been informed that the data for 2000 and beyond will be available on this new system "sometime by late summer 2002".

  Seeking to provide a more satisfactory response to your enquiry the Branch also made contact with the NI Court Service to see if they could provide the information. Again, sadly, we are advised that their systems are not designed to report activity by individual offence, such as robbery, blackmail etc, or by length of immediate custody.

  I regret that it looks as though we shall not be able to chase down the information that you require until late summer and I suspect that will be too late to be of use to the Committee's current enquiry.

26 April 2002

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