11th November 2021
A new report by The Probation Service, Informing & Supporting Change: Drug and Alcohol Misuse among People on Probation Supervision in Ireland, authored by Dr. Louise Rooney, was launched by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee TD on 11th November 2021.
Building on previous research, the study identifies substance misuse prevalence among persons on probation supervision, examines the relationship between substance misuse behaviour and offending, and explores the engagement of persons supervised and the Probation Service response. In conjunction with the Central Statistics Office (CSO), The Probation Service conducted a Drug and Alcohol Misuse Survey of all offender cases on supervision in the community in January 2019 – responses to that survey provide the underpinning data for this report.
The findings highlight that 81% of the sample (comprised of both adult and young persons on supervision) were reported to have a history of alcohol or drug misuse. Combined drug and alcohol misuse (50%) was the most frequent type of misuse, followed by drug misuse only (17%), alcohol misuse only (14%).
IPRT welcomes the Minister’s comments in launching the report, including comments on the role that high-quality research plays in supporting the development of evidence-based policies:
“In relation to substance misuse and offending behaviour, we know there is a well-documented relationship between the two. We also know that a history of substance misuse has been clearly identified as a strong predictor for reoffending and that it is highlighted as one of the foremost risk factors for criminal recidivism.
It is for this reason that high quality research, like this, is critical to ensuring we better understand the issues so we can develop insights and make stronger evidence based policies and associated interventions.”
Key statistical findings:
IPRT welcomes that the data in the study were disaggregated across a number of characteristics, including ethnicity. It is worth noting that the findings demonstrate an overrepresentation of Irish Travellers within The Probation Service, as census data from 2016 indicates that Irish Travellers make up 1% of the general population but 11% of service users in the sample. While Irish Travellers had both lower combined drug and alcohol misuse and lower drug misuse only compared to White/Black Irish, the rates of alcohol misuse only were higher. Irish Travellers (49%) were reported as having a significantly higher rate of alcohol-related offending than White/ Black Irish (40%) and clients from Other ethnicities (39%). These data – and other relevant data in the report – can and should be used to inform service provision for this cohort. (IPRT recently recommended to the Joint Committee on Key Issues affecting the Traveller Community that the Department of Justice ensure that ethnic equality monitoring is adequately carried out across the criminal justice system.)
Read Informing & Supporting Change: Drugs & Alcohol Misuse Among People on Probation Supervision in Ireland on The Probation Service website here.