Written answers

Thursday, 4 February 2010

Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Juvenile Offenders

Photo of Deirdre CluneDeirdre Clune (Cork South Central, Fine Gael)
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Question 12: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of each of the 10 different community sanctions that have been imposed by the courts as part of the provisions of the Children's Act, 2001; if these community sanctions are available nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [5704/10]

Photo of Barry AndrewsBarry Andrews (Minister of State with special responsibility for Children and Young People, Department of Health and Children; Minister of State, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Minister of State, Department of Education and Science; Dún Laoghaire, Fianna Fail)
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Information on sanctions imposed by the courts on young offenders is published each year in the Annual Report of the Courts Service. These reports are available on the Courts Service website, www.courts.ie and in the Oireachtas Library. The most recent such report is in respect of the year 2008. Related information is also available in the Probation Service Annual Report, the most recent of which is also in respect of the year 2008. This report is available on the Probation Service website, www.probation.ie and also in the Oireachtas Library.

I am informed, however, that the two services do not currently collect data to the level of detail requested by the Deputy. I should point out that one of the objectives of the National Youth Justice Strategy is to improve and increase the availability of reliable and relevant data on youth crime. My office is working with the Irish Youth Justice Service and other key stakeholders to achieve this objective.

While detailed information is not readily available, I am informed that the majority of probation orders made by the courts are conditional orders under Section 115(c) of the Children Act 2001. These are linked to the probation order available under the Probation Act 1907. However, it is important to note that the conditions generally imposed by the courts reflect to a large extent the wide spread of community sanctions available to the courts, including mentoring, training, activities and day centre conditions.

The Young Persons Probation Division of the Probation Service was extended in 2008 to provide a national service from bases in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Waterford, Drogheda and Sligo. This has allowed for community sanctions to be made available nationwide.

I do believe that the use of these alternatives to custody are having an impact. The Courts Service Annual Report for 2008 shows that the proportion of court orders involving the detention of children has dropped from 20% of court orders in 2007 to 16% in 2008. This is welcome news and I look forward to the publication of data for 2009, which, I hope, will reflect further improvement.

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