Written answers

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Department of Justice and Equality

Juvenile Offenders

Photo of Catherine MurphyCatherine Murphy (Kildare North, Independent)
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297. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of juvenile offenders in each county; the programmes under his Department's remit in place in each county to combat juvenile offences; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [47925/13]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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The Annual Report of the Committee appointed to monitor the effectiveness of the Diversion Programme under Part 4 of the Children Act 2001, as amended, includes details of the number of incidents of youth crime and the number of individual children referred to the Programme each year. This information is broken down by Garda Region and Division and not by every county. The reports for period 2004 -2011 are available on the website of the Irish Youth Justice Service (www.iyjs.ie). I expect to be able to publish the report for 2012 shortly. However, in the meantime, I have been informed by Garda Commissioner that 12,246 children were referred to the Diversion Programme in 2012. This represents a 4% reduction on the number of children referred in 2011. The following table gives a breakdown by Garda Region and Division.

Tackling youth crime is a key priority for this Government. The youth justice system should be considered in its entirety, from the Garda Diversion Programme to the Children Courts. The principles of the Children Act 2001 require the various authorities to apply, incrementally, a series of "filters" or tests to each case where a child comes into conflict with the law.

The first main filter is the Garda Diversion Programme, involving at different stages and depending on the seriousness of the offence, the informal caution and the formal (supervised) caution. Children admitted to the Programme engage with a Garda Juvenile Liaison Officer (JLO). JLOs receive training in restorative justice practices and mediation skills and work closely with local Community Gardaí. Where appropriate, children may be referred to a Garda Youth Diversion Project (GYDP). The GYDP are funded and administered by the Community Programmes Unit of the Irish Youth Justice Service. This unit makes up the Department of Justice and Equality element of IYJS which is located in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs. Garda Youth Diversion Projects are nationwide, community-based crime prevention initiatives which seek to divert young people from involvement in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour. The following table shows a breakdown of the projects by Garda Region and Division. Other community based projects supported by IYJS include 5 Local Drugs Task Force Projects (four in Cork City and one in Dublin West) and 18 Young Persons Probation (YPP) Community Projects. Sixteen of the YPP Community Projects operate locally and the remaining two operate at a national level.

The second main filter is the non-custodial sanctions available to the Courts, including dismissal under the Probation Act, unsupervised sanctions (fines, disqualification, peace bond, curfew etc.), Probation supervised sanctions (community service and other community sanctions). Finally, as a last resort, detention may be used.

Other Government Departments can also support youth crime prevention through social measures which promote the well-being of people and encourage pro-social behaviour through social, economic, health and educational measures, with a particular emphasis on children and youth, and focus on the risk and protective factors associated with crime and victimisation. While the principal motivation for many of these responses is one of welfare and equality, programmes of this nature have also been found to reduce offending by improving life opportunities and outcomes generally. For example, my colleague the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald T.D. provides funding to support the provision of quality youth provision throughout the country. This funding supports the provision of youth services and programmes to young people including those from disadvantaged communities. Targeted supports for disadvantaged, marginalised and at risk young people are provided through the Special Projects for Youth Scheme, the Young Peoples Facilities and Services Fund and youth-related Local Drugs Task Force Projects.

Table: Number of children referred to the Diversion Programme in 2012

Region
Region Total
Division
Total Number of Children referred
Number of Garda Youth Diversion Projects
Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR)
3910
DMR Eastern
431
3
--DMR North Central
291
5
--DMR Northern
1013
4
--DMR. South Central
217
2
--DMR Southern
801
7
--DMR Western
1157
10
(The Dublin Region has 31 Garda Youth Diversion Projects, 8 Young Persons Probation Community Projects and 1 IYJS-funded Local Drugs Task Force projects) ----
Eastern Region
1624
Kildare
447
2
--Laois/Offaly
307
5
--Meath
305
2
--Westmeath
225
2
--Wicklow
340
2
(The Eastern Region has 13 Garda Youth Diversion Projects)
Northern Region
1267
Cavan/Monaghan
341
2
--Donegal
413
2
--Louth
337
4
--Sligo/Leitrim
176
1
(The Northern Region has 9 Garda Youth Diversion Projects and 1 Young Persons Probation Community Project)----
South Eastern Region
1422
Kilkenny/Carlow
357
2
--Tipperary
320
4
--Waterford
380
5
--Wexford
365
3
(The South Eastern Region has 14 Garda Youth Diversion Projects)
Southern Region
2525
Cork City
765
7
--Cork North
408
3
--Cork West
292
1
--Kerry
397
6
--Limerick
663
6
(The Southern Region has 23 Garda Youth Diversion Projects, 6 Young Persons Probation Community Projects and 4 IYJS-funded Local Drug Task Force projects)----
Western Region
1389
Clare
324
2
--Galway
564
4
--Mayo
264
2
--Roscommon/Longford
237
2
(The Western Region has 10 Garda Youth Diversion Projects and 1 Young Persons Probation Community Project)----
Outside Jurisdiction
109
109
-
National Total--
12246
100

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