Thursday, 5 March 2020
Department of Justice and Equality
Youth Justice Strategy
395. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda youth diversion projects active in Ballymun, Dublin 11; and the number of officers assigned to such projects in Ballymun. [3214/20]
396. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of Garda youth diversion projects active in 2019; the number of officers assigned to such projects in 2019; the funding allocated to such projects in 2019; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3215/20]
397. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the criteria which determine the catchment area for a Garda youth diversion project; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3216/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 394 to 397, inclusive, together.
The Garda Youth Diversion Programme is supported by a network of Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs). The 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.
There are currently 105 GYDPs in place nationwide with a budget of approximately €15.5 million in 2019 funded by my Department. This supports approximately 265 FTE youth justice worker posts - the number can vary throughout the year. In relation to Ballymun, the specific area referred to by the Deputy, I can confirm that my Department currently funds one GYDP, with funding supporting 4 FTE posts.
Considerable progress has been made in the last two years to extend the Garda Youth Diversion Project network to ensure that the service is available throughout the State. This has been achieved by extending existing project catchment areas and allocation of additional staff. There are a small number of areas where this approach would not be suitable and these are being considered for the establishment of new projects instead.
Catchment areas for projects are determined in consultation with local community groups, members of An Garda Síochána and other stakeholders on a case-by-case basis. As the GYDPs have evolved organically since their inception, catchment areas vary depending on the project’s background and local needs.
In recent years, the GYDP model has been developed and extended, with a renewed emphasis on family support and early intervention/preventative work, as well as on working with harder-to-engage young people, including those not suitable for the Garda Diversion Programme. Where any new projects are being established, the minimum core of the project will now include 2 youth justice workers, a family support worker, an early intervention support worker and an outreach worker to engage with harder-to-reach young people.
In relation to future policy in this area, I have chaired an expert steering group over the past twelve months to lead my Department's work developing a new Youth Justice Strategy and I expect a draft of the Strategy to be published in the near future for a further round of consultations, with a view to it being finalised and published thereafter.
The new Strategy will include a focus on how youth justice policy can more closely align 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 priority is responding effectively to the needs of the harder-to-engage cohort of children and young people. 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.