285. Deputy Catherine Murphy asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the engagement and level of support he and his officials have had and offered to Garda youth diversion projects and local communities; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [21002/18]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): I take it the Deputy is referring to the proposal in relation to a Call for proposals with respect to the future provision of Garda Youth Diversion Project (GYDP) services.
I am very conscious that GYDPs deliver valuable services for young people who have committed a crime or may be at risk of offending as well as providing important support for An Garda Síochána at local level. I can assure the Deputy that in the context of the proposed Call for Proposals my Department is committed to ensuring continuity of service for participants on GYDPs and maintain a community driven approach to their operation, as well as minimising any disruption for workers and service providers. In this regard, and in line with the overall objective of providing GYDP services to all children and young persons who require them, I am advised that the intention in relation to the proposed Call for Proposals would be to require applicants to provide for continuity of GYDP services for young people currently participating in the service.
My Department is very much aware of the range of concerns expressed in relation to the proposed Call for Proposals and is undertaking an extensive consultation process. This process includes arrangements for an extensive series of meetings with community based organisations and project workers which will facilitate closer communication and exchange of information in relation to these matters. Local projects have been invited to come back to the Department with:
a) views on the content of a formal statement of the objectives, working methods, evaluation processes and required links with relevant local statutory and community organisations providing related or complementary services (in a context where community ownership and participation of the projects is an essential dimension that must be preserved and strengthened in the working out of this process) to inform the Call process and future developments in relation to GYDPs generally; and
b) the optimum local geographical areas for organisation of individual projects with the objectives of keeping the strong links with local community and other service provider stakeholders that are essential to the successful operation of GYDP and of ensuring that the service is available throughout the State.
In addition, there are arrangements to hear the views of young people, including participants or former participants in local projects.
I can assure the Deputy that the Department's approach to GYDP provision is intended to ensure that we do not reduce the level of service that already exists, or the importance of community involvement in its delivery. On the contrary, the intention is to build on, update and improve a very valuable service so that it is available to every child or young person in the country who requires it. The improvement envisaged to the service will have benefits for significant numbers of young people in the State who cannot currently access GYDP services.