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Northern Ireland

In Northern Ireland, there are over 13,000 people working within the justice sector, which represents 2% of the UK Justice sector. 37% of the workforce is female.

Less than 1% of the justice sector workforce is from a black or minority ethnic background.

The Northern Ireland Justice sector under-represents 16-24 year olds within its workforce (6%), compared with 14% of 16-24 year olds within the Northern Ireland economy. In Northern Ireland, the highest proportion of the workforce (33%) is aged between 45-54 years. The Northern Ireland Justice sector over-represents those aged 55 years and over (17%), compared with 13% of the Northern Ireland economy.

The associate professional and technical major group dominate the occupational profile of the sector (48%).

The overwhelming majority of the Northern Ireland justice sector workforce consists of employees on a permanent contract (99%), and the majority work in full-time jobs (89%).


The largest employing sub-sector in the Northern Ireland Justice sector is Policing and Law Enforcement (13,700) of which mostly all are employed by Police Service Northern Ireland (PSNI).

In Northern Ireland, the community justice workforce comprises:

  • 1,019 people working in offending behaviour
  • approximately 80 people working in community safety
  • 423 people delivering youth justice services
  • an unknown number working with victims, survivors and witnesses, and in substance misuse

Some key skill shortages in the Northern Ireland workforce include: risk assessment and management; challenges of working in partnership and in competition; working with high risk offenders; team leading in youth justice; multi-agency working with reference to young people; and competitive bidding.

In Northern Ireland, the Northern Ireland Court Service (NICtS) was established in 1979 as a separate civil service and is the Lord Chancellor's department in Northern Ireland and currently employs 848 staff. The Northern Ireland Court Service has identified management and leadership skills and policy skills as workforce skills issues that will need developing.

In Northern Ireland, 2,145 staff are employed in the Northern Ireland Prison Service across three prisons. The Northern Ireland Prison Service has introduced two new grades: Prison Custody Officers; and Officer Support Grades. It is expected there will be an expected 200 people entering these new grades. The Sentencing Framework Review could have major skills needs implications, depending upon its outcomes. Basic skills gaps identified in the workforce include: literacy; numeracy; and ICT skills.

The Fire and Rescue Service in Northern Ireland (NIFRS) is divided into four area commands, which are supported by 14 Districts. There are 68 fire stations across Northern Ireland. The workforce comprises:

  • 901 full-time Firefighters
  • 980 retained Firefighters
  • 12 volunteer Firefighters
  • 59 regional control staff
  • 218 non-uniformed support staff
  • 53 part-time caretakers
  • Similarly to the rest of the UK, the NIFRS has a gender imbalance in the makeup of the force, with a strong bias towards male employment.

In Northern Ireland, there is approximately 225 forensic science staff working for either executive agencies or commercial providers. The number of forensic science staff working within Police Service Northern Ireland is not known. forensic science Northern Ireland (FSNI) is the main forensic science employer.

The Northern Ireland Public Prosecution Service (PPSNI) was formally launched in 2005. The service is regionally based and employs 562 staff, of which 165 are lawyers. There is an expected replacement demand of 25% due to retirements by 2014. The following skill shortages have been identified: provision of experience for prosecutors; management skills for lawyers; potential impact of devolution; and management skills development.

Source: Skills for Justice LMI March 2010 and Skills for Justice Sector Skills Assessment – Northern Ireland 2010