Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
391. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of juvenile court proceedings in each of the past five years; the number of cases that included the convening of a family welfare conference; the number that reportedly included a probation officer; and the number that resulted in the formulation of an action plan for the child. [3210/20]
392. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of juveniles found to be non-compliant with court-imposed action plans overseen by probation officers in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3211/20]
393. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of juveniles assigned community sanction, day centre orders and probation orders in the past five years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3212/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 391 to 393, inclusive, together.
The Children Act 2001 as amended provides the legislative framework for the youth justice system and provides for the care, protection and management of young people engaging in offending behaviour. It is underpinned by key principles which include using detention as a last resort and diverting children away from involvement in criminal activity.
The first main filter in the youth justice system is the Garda Youth Diversion Programme, which focuses on preventing criminal behaviour as well as diversion from the criminal justice system and rehabilitation of children between 10 and 18 years of age. The Garda Youth Diversion Programme is supported by a network of Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs). These projects are community-based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives which seek to divert young people who have become involved in crime or anti-social behaviour and to support wider preventative work within the community and with families at risk.
The second main filter provided in the Children Act is the range of non-custodial sanctions available to the courts. Part 9 of the Children Act 2001 provides for a suite of community sanctions including Probation Order, Mentoring Order and Detention and Supervision Order. The Probation Order with specified conditions is used most frequently, as it provides flexibility in tailoring the intervention to meet the individual needs of the young person concerned.
Young Persons Probation (YPP) is a division of the Probation Service which was established in 2006. YPP supervise the community sanctions contained in the Children Act 2001. I am assured that the Probation Service at all times works to support each young person to comply with their court order. Non-compliance with a community sanction can however result in the young person being returned to court, at which time they may be afforded a further opportunity to comply, the order may be varied by the presiding judge, or a period of detention may be imposed.
I have consulted with the Probation Service with regard to the data requested by the Deputy. I am informed that the tables below provide information as requested in relation to juvenile interactions with the Probation Service from 2014 to 2018. I am further informed that that statistics for 2019 are currently being compiled and will be published in the forthcoming Annual Report 2019 for the Probation Service.
It should be noted that the following tables provide information regarding new referrals to the Probation Service from the Courts for the years in question, and also provides a breakdown of ongoing supervision cases for each of the five years. I am informed by the Probation Service that a Probation Officer is assigned and a case management plan is put in place for all ongoing supervision cases. I am further informed by the Probation Service that the specific information requested regarding the number of juveniles found non-compliant with court imposed action plans is not currently maintained by the Probation Service.
|New Referrals From Court||2014||2015||2016||2017||2018|
|Referral for Probation (Pre-Sanction) Reports||775||805||671||646||700|
|Referral for Community Service Reports||15||12||11||8||2|
|Pre-Sanction Reports to consider Community Service||9||10||8||4||4|
|Orders without prior report||26||25||15||9||12|
|Total Referrals Young Persons||861||888||725||690||740|
|Orders for Supervision During Deferment of Penalty||370||306||264||264||289|
|Community Service Orders||20||30||24||19||15|
|Fully Suspended Sentence with Supervision||8||15||12||25||27|
|Part Suspended Sentence Supervision Orders Made||7||10||3||11||3|
|Deferment of Detention Orders||0||4||5||0||0|
|Detention & Supervision Orders||0||49||27||8||23|
|Total Supervision Orders Young Persons||740||811||595||572||648|
The Deputy also sought information in relation to ‘Juvenile Court’. I take this to refer to the District Court sitting as the Children Court (section 71 of the Act of 2001). I am informed by the Court Service that information relating to the total number of juvenile offences concluded by the District Court, and in which a final order was made is contained in the Courts Service Annual reports. These reports are available on the Courts Service website at the following link:.I am further informed that statistics for 2019 have not yet been collated and will be published in the forthcoming Annual Report for 2019.
Finally, in relation to future policy in this area, Minister of State David Stanton has chaired an expert steering group over the past twelve months to assist my Department in the work of developing a new Youth Justice Strategy. I expect a draft of the Strategy to be published before too long for a further round of consultations, with a view to it being finalised and brought to Government for approval as soon as possible thereafter.
The new Strategy will include consideration of how youth justice policy might be more closely aligned to other child and youth policies, including targeted policies to support children and families who experience multiple disadvantage and links between schools and other services and programmes. A particular challenge is how to ensure an effective response to the needs of the harder-to-engage cohort of children and young people, and ensuring that the Strategy focuses on this as a priority. The Strategy will include measures to address fragmentation within current services and programme delivery at local and national level so as to support a holistic response to the needs of particular children at risk, in the specific family and community context, rather than separate responses to different aspects of need at different ages and stages of the family cycle.