Tánaiste publishes 2015 Annual Report of the Committee appointed to monitor the effectiveness of the Garda Diversion Programme
25 January 2017
The Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD has published the 2015 Annual Report of the committee appointed to monitor the effectiveness of the statutory Diversion Programme.
The Report provides an overview of youth crime in 2015 and the numbers of children referred for consideration of their admission to the Diversion Programme. The Tánaiste welcomed that 184 less children came to the notice of An Garda Síochána in 2015 than in 2014.
The Tánaiste said, “I am determined to ensure the youth justice system continues to find alternative means to Court to deal with offending and to prevent future offending. I want to acknowledge the excellent work done by Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers and to signal the importance of the State’s investment in the nationwide network of Garda Youth Diversion Projects which substantially supports the operation of the Diversion Programme.”
“The Government remains firmly committed to continuing its work to reduce youth crime and on anti-social behaviour. Ten new Garda Youth Diversion Projects have come into operation during 2015 and 2016 to assist this work.”
4,860 of the children who were admitted to the Diversion Programme (7,282) were given an informal caution, i.e. a caution without supervision by a Garda Juvenile Liaison Officer (JLO).
A caution without supervision is generally applied for a first offence or a repeat minor offence. 2,422 children were given a formal caution involving a period of JLO supervision.
The Report shows that 1,479 children were deemed unsuitable for admission to the Diversion Programme representing a 6.5% fall on the number deemed unsuitable in 2014. The files in these cases were returned to the local Superintendent for possible prosecution.
The top 3 offence categories for children in 2015 were Theft and Related Offences (28.6%), Public Order and Social Code Offences (22.7%) and Damage to Property and the Environment (11.3%). These continue to be the main categories of offences for which children are referred to the Diversion Programme.
When compared with the same offences categories in 2014, the 2015 figures show a 9% increase in the offence of Damage to Property and the Environment, a 1% reduction in the offence category of Theft and Related Offences and a 5% reduction in the offence category Public Order and Social Code Offences.
Referring to the Committee’s recommendation in relation to the 5% of young offenders who are responsible for 30% of all juvenile crime, the Tánaiste said that the issue of prolific youth offending was very much the focus of attention for Minister of State David Stanton who is currently progressing initiatives to tackle the offending behaviour of this particularly challenging cohort of offender. Further details will be announced by the Minister of State early this year.
Note for Editors:
· The Diversion Programme Monitoring Committee comprises of 4 members. Its structure and terms of reference are set out in Section 44 of the Children Act 2001, as amended. The chairperson and one member are Gardaí and are appointed by the Minister following consultation with the Garda Commissioner. The two civilian members are appointed directly by the Minister for Justice and Equality.
· The Garda Diversion Programme operates in accordance with Part 4 of the Children Act 2001, as amended, and under the general superintendence and control of the Garda Commissioner. The aim of the Diversion Programme is to deal with children who offend, by way of administering a formal or informal caution, thus diverting the offender away from the courts and minimising the likelihood of further offending. The Diversion Programme embraces, whenever possible, the principles of restorative justice and, at all times, it pays the highest regard to the needs of the victims. The Programme has proven to be successful in diverting young people away from crime by offering guidance and support to young offenders and their families.
· Garda Youth Diversion Projects are funded by Community Programmes Unit of the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) under the Department of Justice and Equality. The projects are community-based, multi-agency crime prevention / crime reduction initiatives which, primarily, seek to divert young people who have been involved in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour by providing suitable activities to facilitate personal development, and promote civic responsibility and improve long-term employability prospects. By doing so, the projects also contribute to improving the quality of life within communities and to enhancing Garda/community relations. The projects may also work with young people who are significantly at risk of becoming involved in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour. Essentially the projects provide a resource to An Garda Síochána and to Juvenile Liaison Officers in particular, in the implementation of the Diversion Programme. Most projects are located within areas of high social deprivation.