Thursday, 14 June 2018
Department of Justice and Equality
Garda Youth Diversion Projects
97. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to reports in the media (details supplied) of a recent Garda audit which uncovered that An Garda Síochána had failed to pursue cases against up to 7,000 juveniles; the steps he is taking to ensure age appropriate interventions take place in cases in which a child becomes involved in crime; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26010/18]
109. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if he will report on the recent Garda audit of crimes committed by children and teenagers as reported in the media (details supplied); the reason meaningful action did not take place in up to 7,000 cases; the steps he is taking to address this issue; the details of the 21,000 offences by nature of the offence; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26009/18]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 97 and 109 together.
I am of course aware of the recent media coverage of this matter and, in response to previous questions in this House, I have already provided details of actions that are in train in this regard.
As the Deputy is aware, a number of issues which impact on the effective administration of the Garda Diversion Programme were identified following the completion, in June 2017, of an examination by the Garda Professional Services Unit (GPSU). The Garda authorities subsequently initiated a comprehensive review of all youth referrals between 2010 and 2017 and a Review Team was tasked with coordinating this work, which covers all of the 28 Garda Divisions.
I can assure the Deputy of my concern that these issues are thoroughly addressed. These matters have also been highlighted in correspondence from Minister Flanagan to the Policing Authority, in the context of their oversight role of An Garda Síochána, and the Deputy will be aware that the Policing Authority have indicated their intention to engage further with the Garda authorities in this matter. In addition, the Acting Commissioner has been requested to ensure that the present Review is completed as soon as possible, and my Department has recently sought a further update on the progress of the review from the Garda authorities, which is awaited.
The Garda Youth Diversion Programme is an essential part of Government strategy to help tackle youth crime, and it is very important that it operates effectively. The operation of the Programme by An Garda Síochána is strongly supported by a nationwide network of 105 Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs), which are funded by my Department and operated by community-based organisations.
My Department is currently engaged in a wide-ranging consultation process to support the development of GYDP services over the next few years. This process is helping to distil key issues to be addressed in expanding and enhancing the provision of GYDP services, including in relation to age-appropriate interventions. Of particular importance in this regard will be the preservation of strong links with the local community and encouraging the provision of an integrated service by working in partnership with all relevant service providers, with the overarching objective of ensuring that appropriate GYDP services are available to all children who could benefit, regardless of where they live in the State. In addition, a renewed emphasis on preventative work and on use of mentoring approaches will be key in ensuring age-appropriate responses to the needs of individual children.