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Question

93. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which action continues to be taken against teenagers becoming involved in faction fight type incidents in residential areas throughout the country, with special reference to the greater Dublin area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40771/16]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Deputy will appreciate that actions to deal with the issues referred to are a matter for An Garda Síochána in the first instance. I am advised that all incidences of assault and public disorder, including the sort of incidents referred to, which come to Garda attention are thoroughly investigated, whether in the greater Dublin area or elsewhere.
The allocation of Garda resources and the prioritising of policing matters is a matter for local Garda management who are best placed to respond to localised public disorder, street violence and anti-social behaviour. Gardaí engage closely with local communities, including Neighbourhood Watch and Community Alert groups, and in more formal structures such as Joint Policing Committees. This engagement facilitates the expression of community concerns in relation to policing and public order issues and helps Gardaí to respond appropriately. In this regard there is a wide range of legislation available which may be utilised by An Garda Síochána to address incidents of anti-social behaviour and related criminal acts.
There are also particular interventions which can be taken in relation to young persons who may have become involved, or be at risk of becoming involved, in crime. My Department has responsibility for the Community Programmes Unit of the Irish Youth Justice Service which manages the Garda Youth Diversion Project Network nationwide. There are 106 Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) in place nationwide. GYDPs are community based multi-agency crime prevention initiatives which primarily seek to divert young people who have become involved in crime/anti-social behaviour. In 2016, approximately €12m was allocated by the Irish Youth Justice Service to GYDPs and a number of other youth diversion community based projects around the country. The evidence indicates that Diversion Projects are a sound investment. The GYDPs tackle behaviours such as impulsiveness which is associated with the bulk of youth crime; for example, public order offending and minor theft. The GYDPs have a critical role to play in reducing youth crime. Their role is to prevent or 'divert' young people from the onset of repeat or serious offending, including potential future involvement in gangland crime, and they do this very effectively and efficiently. An overview of youth crime can be found in the Annual Reports of the Committee Appointed to Monitor the Effectiveness of the Diversion Programme.
The Garda Youth Diversion programme continues to make significant inroads in targeting supports to young people in effectively diverting them towards more positive life choices.
In conclusion, I might add that the Government is making very significant investments in policing resources, including the expansion of the Garda fleet and the upgrading of Garda technology and IT systems. These investments are underpinned by the commitment to increase Garda numbers to 15,000 overall, and all of these measures will undoubtedly enhance the Garda response to the issue referred to and benefit policing services generally in all areas of the country.