Academic interest in crime and punishment in Ireland has grown in recent years and a number of important books have appeared (Bacik and O'Connell 1998, Brewer et al 1997, McCullagh 1996, O'Mahony 1993, O'Malley 2000). However any attempt to create a detailed understanding of the criminal justice process is frustrated by a lack of data. Statistical information is often published years in arrears, is of poor quality and is uncritically accepted as accurate and meaningful. The purpose of this paper is to give a snapshot of current understanding of the criminal justice system and to highlight a small number of key policy issues. The data presented are the most up to date available at the time of writing (August 2000) and an attempt is made to put the Irish situation into a European context.