Wednesday, 28 March 2018
Department of Justice and Equality
Garda Youth Diversion Projects
174. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality his plans for Garda youth diversion projects; if his attention has been drawn to plans by the Irish Youth Justice Service to examine the funding and service delivery model for these projects; his views on whether proposed new arrangements will result in the closure of youth diversion projects administered by independent youth services; if these projects are funded through the European Social Fund; if legal advice has been provided to put new arrangements in place for the funding of Garda youth diversion projects; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14342/18]
As the Deputy 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.
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 a wide ranging consultation process which is currently ongoing. 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 my Department is expected shortly. This report will help with the further development of the Call for Proposals documentation.
My Department is very much aware of concerns expressed by youth justice workers and their representatives. I can assure the Deputy that careful consideration is being given to all issues raised by stakeholders involved in GYDPs, including those of independent service providers, as part of the ongoing consultation process. 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.
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 the Deputy 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 comprehensive approach being developed.
Furthermore, and in line with the overall objective of providing GYDP services to all children and young persons who require them, I am advised that the Call for Proposals will require applicants to provide for continuity of GYDP services. It is of course a matter for organisations which apply to provide future GYDP services under the Call for Proposals to ensure that they comply with relevant legal responsibilities, including in relation to the European Communities (Protection of Employees on Transfer of Undertakings) Regulations 2003 (S.I. No. 131/2003).