Written answers

Tuesday, 10 December 2013

Department of Justice and Equality

Youth Justice Strategy

Photo of Eamonn MaloneyEamonn Maloney (Dublin South West, Labour)
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379. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the impact of the Garda diversion programme on anti-social behaviour and youth crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [53004/13]

Photo of Alan ShatterAlan Shatter (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Defence; Dublin South, Fine Gael)
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The Diversion Programme operates in accordance with Part 4 of the Children Act 2001, as amended, and under the general superintendence and control of the Garda Commissioner. The objective of the Diversion Programme is to divert any child who accepts responsibility for his or her criminal or anti social behaviour from committing further offences or engaging in further anti social behaviour. This is done by way of administering a formal or informal caution, thus diverting the offender away from the courts and minimising the likelihood of further offending. The Programme embraces, whenever possible, the principles of restorative justice and the programme also pays regard to the needs of the victims of youth offending.

The Programme is supported by 100 Garda Youth Diversion Projects. These projects are nationwide, community-based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives run in partnership with An Garda Síochána and funded/overseen by my Department‘s unit within the Irish Youth Justice Service. These projects seek to divert young people from involvement in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour. They aim to bring about the conditions whereby the behavioural patterns of young people towards law and order can develop and mature through positive interventions and interaction with the projects. The projects are particularly targeted at 12-17 year old "at risk" youths in communities where a specific need has been identified and where there is a risk of these young people remaining within the criminal justice system.

The Annual Reports of the Committee appointed to monitor the effectiveness of the Diversion Programme under Part 4 of the Act 2001, as amended, include 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. The reports for period 2004-2011 are available on the website of the Irish Youth Justice Service (www.iyjs.ie). I have recently received the 2012 Report and I will be in a position to publish that report shortly. The programme is seen to be successful in diverting young offenders away from crime by offering guidance and support to the young people and their families.

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