Written answers

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Department of Justice and Equality

An Garda Síochána

Photo of Marc MacSharryMarc MacSharry (Sligo-Leitrim, Fianna Fail)
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153. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the engagement her officials have had with the Garda authorities in relation to the proposed new Garda headquarters in Kilmainham; the discussions that were had with the Office of Public Works on the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29974/21]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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As the Deputy will be aware, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. Works in relation to Garda accommodation are progressed by the Garda authorities working in close cooperation with the OPW.

I can advise the Deputy that officials from my Department are members of both the Project Implementation Team and the overall Steering Group for the new Garda Security and Crime Operations Centre in Military Road. These groups provide the oversight and governance of this important project. The Steering Group is chaired by An Garda Síochána with representatives from OPW providing regular project progress reports to the group.

The project will provide a new Garda Control and Operations Centre at Military Road, Dublin 8. Discussions between OPW and An Garda Síochána on the decant from Harcourt Square were initiated in 2013 with Military Road identified as the new location in November 2015.

I am further advised that planning approval was granted in August 2018. The procurement process commenced in mid 2019 and concluded in February 2020. Construction commenced in March 2020 and, notwithstanding the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, is due to complete by end September 2022.

Photo of Martin KennyMartin Kenny (Sligo-Leitrim, Sinn Fein)
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154. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality if she will clarify the role of An Garda Síochána in the security of passengers using public transport in view of recent attacks on citizens within the transport system; her plans to seek an extension of that role; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [27641/21]

Photo of Heather HumphreysHeather Humphreys (Cavan-Monaghan, Fine Gael)
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I abhor the recent acts of violence and anti-social behaviour, which are completely unacceptable. There are a number of tools at the disposal of the Garda Commissioner, who is operationally responsible, to respond to such incidents. The Commissioner is also responsible, as the Deputy will be aware, for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, and as Minister I have no role in these independent functions.

An Garda Síochána's mission of 'Keeping People Safe' extends to all areas of our communities, including public transport. Garda management engages extensively with transport operators, including the National Transport Authority, Irish Rail (DART and InterCity rail) and Transdev Ireland (Luas) to provide a high visibility presence through a co-ordinated approach.

I am informed that a range of regional and local operations have been put in place to prevent and detect incidents arising.

For example, Operation Twin Track was a Community Engagement and Rail Safety Policing Initiative conducted by Gardaí in partnership with other public transportation stakeholders with the purpose of providing high visibility policing of rail and light rail transport within the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) and nationwide, and to deliver crime prevention advice.

A multi-agency review was conducted to examine the effectiveness of this operation and it was agreed that An Garda Síochána will continue to proactively engage with public transportation stakeholders and providers to conduct further similar operations.

I have been advised by the Garda authorities that each Chief Superintendent in Dublin has put in place a dedicated policing plan to tackle anti-social behaviour on public transport. Gardaí are conducting both overt and covert patrols of various public transport networks to address incidents of non-compliance under the Health Act 1947 (as amended), incidences of anti-social behaviour or any other criminal offences.

I am advised that An Garda Síochána do not propose to establish a dedicated transport policing unit at this time.

Photo of James O'ConnorJames O'Connor (Cork East, Fianna Fail)
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155. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the plans in place to expand Garda youth diversion projects; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29975/21]

Photo of Pádraig O'SullivanPádraig O'Sullivan (Cork North Central, Fianna Fail)
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160. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the youth justice strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [29707/21]

Photo of James BrowneJames Browne (Wexford, Fianna Fail)
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I propose to take Questions Nos. 155 and 160 together.

As the Deputy will be aware, the new Youth Justice Strategy 2021 – 2027 was published on 15 April last.

The Strategy includes the full range of issues connected to children and young people at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system, including early intervention and preventative work, family support and diversion from crime, through to court process and facilities, supervision of offenders, detention and reintegration and support post release.

The actions in the Strategy focus on maximising opportunities to promote positive behavioural change and desistance from offending. This will require a sustained commitment to working collaboratively and effectively between State agencies and community partners, as well as a commitment to prioritise resource allocation to address factors connected to early involvement in criminal activity and more serious offending patterns.

The Strategy strengthens and expands the role of the Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) and promotes appropriate linkages and alignment with other community-based initiatives, including those supported by the Probation Service. Bringing the full range of relevant interventions together in a coherent and holistic response to youth crime will support the objective of diverting young people from crime and anti-social behaviour.

There are currently 105 GYDPs nationally and the intention is to further develop this service so that it is available to every child in the State who could benefit from it, through an ongoing expansion of existing services and the foundation of new projects where necessary. Funding for GYDPs has increased every year since 2015. €15.3 million was provided in 2019 and at least €15.6 million was provided for 2020. €18 million funding has been provided for 2021 with a further allocation of €3m for the Greentown pilots, Bail Supervision Scheme and Research Evidence into Policy Programmes and Practice (REPPP).

The Strategy also provides that, where necessary, GYDPs can provide a broader range of services, including family support and engagement with children aged 8-12 years, as well as developing enhanced approaches to engaging with harder to reach children and young people who may have more entrenched patterns of offending.

The Youth Justice Strategy provides a framework to:

- prevent offending behaviour occurring;

- divert children and young adults who commit a crime away from further offending and involvement with the criminal justice system; and

- enhance criminal justice processes, detention and post-detention measures, to provide consistent support to encourage desistance from crime and promote positive personal development for young offenders.

The Youth Justice Strategy 2021 – 2027 is available on my Department’s website.

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