Derry youth case list highest outside Belfast

The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.
The courthouse at Bishop Street, Derry.

Outside Belfast, Derry Magistrate’s Court division has had the largest number of new youth offender cases to deal with over the last three months, according to statistics just released by the Northern Ireland Courts’ Service.

In the Derry division, which also includes Limavady and Magherfelt, a total of 76 young people were brought before the Magistrate’s Court from April to June this year.

Comparatively, in the same period the Laganside courts in Belfast dealt with 143 youth cases.

Derry Magistrate’s Court also dealt with a higher than average number of domestic violence cases in the three months until June this year; with a total of 129 cases listed.

The vast majority of domestic violence cases were dealt with at the Derry Court office, with just nine cases listed for appearances between Limavady and Magherafelt.

By comparison, over the same period, Belfast’s Laganside Court dealt with 394 domestic cases.

The statistics also show that a large proportion of applications for non molestation orders are then withdrawn from court proceedings.

In all just over 600 of the orders were granted by district courts and a total of 165 orders granted were later withdrawn.

While the Courts’ Service figures don’t break down crime statistics by district, offences against the person, which includes assault and grevious bodily harm, were, as a whole, the most common crimes involving youths coming before the courts in Northern Ireland.

This figure was closely followed by theft and motoring offences and there was also a total of 41 cases of disorderly behaviour.

In all six youths were prosecuted for sexual offences from April to June, across the North.

Prosecutions for drugs were one of the lowest on the list, with just 12 young people brought to court on drugs related charges within the same period.

Youth offenders range in age from 10 to 18 and are generally dealt with by the Magistrate’s Court as opposed to the Crown Court which deals with more serious crimes.

Across the North as a whole, 456 young people were prosecuted by the PSNI in the last three months alone.

The number of adult prosecutions was largely in line with the rest of the court districts across the country.

In all 690 adults were prosecuted at Derry Magistrate’s Court from April to June, with a further 117 at Limavady and 150 at Magherafelt.

In all there were just over 8,000 prosecutions across the various court districts in the same period with more than a quarter of those being accounted for at Laganside court in Belfast.

Defendants appearing at Derry Magistrate’s Court will have to wait 4.8 weeks for their case to be heard, which sits at almost the exact average for all the court districts.

Laganside at Belfast has a slightly shorter waiting time of 4.7 and if you are taken to court in Antrim you could be waiting as long as six weeks before appearing in front of a District Judge.