The Criminal Justice Evidence (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 provides the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland with a power to prescribe categories of offences which are 'of the same type' for use as an indicator that a defendant has a propensity to commit offences of a certain type. The draft proposed Criminal Justice (Evidence) (Northern Ireland) Order 2004 (Categories of Offences) Order 2005 proposes two such categories of offences: Part I deals with offences of theft; Part II deals with sexual offences against persons aged under the age of 17.
While Part II of the draft Order focuses on children aged under 17, any relevant previous conviction—including those committed against persons aged 17 or over—may be admissible at trial even when no relevant category of offences has been introduced. Both Part I and Part II categories are intended as a guide to the judiciary. Nor does the absence of categories for other types of offences prevent previous convictions from being admitted if they demonstrate a propensity to commit a certain type of offence. Further categories may be introduced at a later date.