96. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the action taken to deter young persons from contemplating a life of criminality, with particular reference to removing gangland criminals from the scene by way of prosecution and, as required, incarceration, in view of the degree of hero worship enjoyed in such circles traditionally; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [40774/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can assure the Deputy I am well aware of the issues to which he refers and that tackling the involvement of young people in crime continues to be a priority for this Government.
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.
The Deputy will also be aware of the very significant measures which have been introduced in response to the appalling gang-related violence over the past year or so. These measures include the provision of significant additional resources to An Garda Síochána, strengthened legislative measures targeting the proceeds of crime, the establishment of a new Garda Special Crime Task Force in Dublin and the establishment of a dedicated Garda Armed Support Unit in Dublin which is now fully operational on a round-the-clock basis.
We are already seeing significant results being achieved on foot of these measures which are coordinated under Operation Hybrid. As of 6 December 2016, there have been 44 arrests in relation to gang-related killings in Dublin, with 5 persons charged in connection with those murders and a further 3 persons charged with related offences. In addition, 22 firearms have been seized and over 8,000 lines of enquiry conducted. In excess of 11,520 high visibility checkpoints have been implemented with significant support from Armed Support Units and a significant amount of CCTV footage, mobile phone traffic, and forensic evidence is also being examined. Operation Hybrid is reviewed on a weekly basis to maintain optimal impact.
All of these measures are underpinned by the commitment to increase Garda numbers to 15,000 overall, and will undoubtedly enhance the Garda response to the matters referred and benefit policing services in all areas of the country.