Thursday, 16 December 2021
Department of Justice and Equality
I can confirm to the Deputy that funding of almost €200,000 is being provided to eight community-based projects to work with young people involved in the anti-social use of scramblers and quad bikes and related crime.
This is an important issue for the Government and is reflected in the Programme for Government commitment to enhance powers available to An Garda Síochána to limit the use of scramblers and quads by those engaged in anti-social behaviour and enact legislation to add to those powers if needed.
The misuse of scramblers, quad-bikes and similar off-road vehicles is a cause of concern in a number of communities across the country, principally in Dublin but also other urban centres. Issues arise for communities where vehicles are used on public, open spaces such as in housing estates, playing pitches or in public parks.
I can inform the Deputy that I chair the Anti-Social Behaviour Forum within my Department. One of the tasks of the Forum was to deliver proposals to Government for a community based approach to tackling this problem. While the role of An Garda Síochána is fundamental to addressing the misuse of scramblers and other vehicles, it was also highlighted to the Forum that engagement with communities and raising awareness are just as important.
Raising awareness encompasses educating younger people of dangers to themselves and to others in using such vehicles and highlighting the dangers to parents who are considering buying such vehicles for their children. The Forum explored the opportunities of intervention and diversion from this type of activity.
Earlier this year, the Department of Justice invited applications for funding from Youth Diversion Projects who would act as the focal point for local consortiums for the development of proposals for community-based interventions to work with young people involved in the anti-social use of these vehicles and related crime and anti-social behaviour.
These funding provisions have so far enabled eight Youth Diversion Projects to obtain funding to work with young people involved in the misuse of these vehicles. A total of ten Youth Diversion Projects have submitted applications to the Department, though there have been two joint applications, leaving the total number of projects funded at eight.
Seven of these projects are based in Dublin with one in Limerick.
The projects will be required to consult with other local interests, including An Garda Síochána, and to create a local consortium which will include the local authority.
Based on experience with existing initiatives, it is envisaged that the local authority partner is best placed to assist with the provision of tracks and related facilities. Each proposal submitted via the YDPs is assessed in accordance with the guidelines issued by my Department. The programme will also encourage young people to engage positively to learn motorcycle skills, including maintenance, combined with relevant educational and personal development activities.
Separately, the Minister of Transport is examining provisions to strengthen the law in relation to the dangerous and antisocial off-road use of scramblers, quads and other similar vehicles. It is hoped that this combined approach of increased Garda powers to tackle the misuse of scramblers, together with the creation of alternative options for those who wish to use such vehicles safely and legally, will have a significant impact in tackling the problem.
The Department of Justice would welcome additional applications from other Youth Diversion Projects to support the development of additional local scrambler initiatives.