Thursday, 22 March 2018
Department of Justice and Equality
Garda Youth Diversion Projects
93. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to review or restructure the delivery model of Garda youth diversion projects; if he will report on same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13257/18]
99. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to concerns held by the Garda youth diversion programme independent network, IGYD, regarding the future funding of the programmes following a call for proposal by the Irish Youth Justice Service; if his attention has been further drawn to the fact that IGYD is of the view that the upcoming call for proposals will have detrimental impacts on young persons, communities and youth services; the reason these changes to funding of Garda youth diversion programmes are occurring; if he will engage with the IGYD to address these concerns and ensure the future of these programmes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13449/18]
101. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if special provision has been made in the procurement process to facilitate existing service providers to tender collectively as a consortium in relation to the Garda youth diversion projects (details supplied); and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13489/18]
102. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if social benefit clauses have been written into the notice of tender to ensure that the additional wrap-around services which Garda youth diversion clients avail of due to their delivery in a wider youthwork setting will be provided for under the new service delivery model; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13491/18]
104. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if the procurement document in relation to Garda youth division projects will make special provision for or give weighting to tendering bodies that undertake to sub-contract existing service providers to ensure continuity of service in existing divisional areas; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13495/18]
105. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality his plans to defer the publishing of the procurement notice until all parameters regarding the transition from the existing service providers has been explored and every reasonable option to enable them to form alliances or consortia to competitively tender have been examined and communicated; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [13497/18]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 93, 99, 101, 102, 104 and 105 together.
As Deputies may be aware, my Department is obliged to carry out a Call for proposals process during 2018 in relation to the provision of Garda Youth Diversion Project (GYDP) services, to fully comply with requirements related to the co-funding of projects by the European Social Fund Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020.
I can assure Deputies that the new approach to GYDP provision which is being developed in preparation for the Call for Proposals will not reduce the level of service that already exists, or the importance of community involvement in its delivery. On the contrary, the intention is to build on, update and improve a very valuable service, so that it is available to every child or young person in the country who requires it. While certain aspects of the new approach have been determined, work is ongoing to complete the full details to be included in the Call for Proposals, which is expected to issue later this year. I firmly believe that community ownership and participation of the projects is an essential dimension that must be preserved and strengthened in the working out of this process.
To ensure State-wide coverage of GYDP services for young people, (which does not exist at present), the intention is that, in general, service provision will be aligned with Garda Divisions or other appropriate local areas with a distinct community identity as may be agreed during the consultation process. Issues of community identify and numbers of potential participants on GYDPs in the area will be key considerations here.
The provision of GYDP services in all parts of the State has obvious advantages, particularly in terms of providing services for significant numbers of young people who cannot currently access them. I might add that an independent evaluation report of the operation of an integrated approach to delivery of GYDP services within County Kerry, commissioned by the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) is expected shortly. This report will help with the further development of the Call for Proposals documentation.
GYDPs provide an effective and essential support to the operation of the statutory Garda Diversion Programme by An Garda Síochána. The principal focus of GYDPs is on young people who receive a Garda caution under the Diversion Programme for involvement in criminal or anti-social behaviour and are referred to a local GYDP (primary referrals). GYDPs also accommodate a certain proportion of young people who are considered to be at risk of involvement in offending or anti-social behaviour (secondary referrals).
In relation to secondary referrals, it has to be considered if, in principle, it is appropriate to refer a child to a Garda project where no criminal act has been identified. For some, a better option might be referral to available mainstream youth services that could appropriately support them. That being said, it is accepted that referrals to GYDPs must take account of local needs and issues in relation to access and availability of mainstream youth services. Following the Call for Proposals process, GYDP services will still accommodate a certain proportion of secondary referrals and the proportion of these may vary from area to area depending on identified local needs.
My Department is very much aware of concerns expressed by youth justice workers and their representatives. I can assure Deputies that careful consideration is being given to all issues raised by stakeholders involved in GYDPs as part of a wide-ranging consultation process, which is currently ongoing. This process includes arrangements for an extensive series of meetings with community based organisations and project workers which will facilitate closer communication and exchange of information in relation to these matters. The consultation process will help to inform further development of the approach in advance of the Call for Proposals being issued, including in relation to the matters referred to by the Deputies.
In addition, the consultations will include arrangements to hear the views of young people, including participants or former participants on GYDPs.
GYDPs deliver valuable services for young people who have committed a crime or may be at risk of offending as well as providing important support for An Garda Síochána at local level. I can assure Deputies that in the context of the Call for Proposals my Department is committed to ensuring continuity of service for participants on GYDPs and maintain a community driven approach to their operation, as well as minimising any disruption for workers and service providers. In this regard, I am advised that the Call for Proposals process will facilitate existing service providers forming consortiums, which could apply to provide services under the new GYDP model.