The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan, and Minister of State, David Stanton, who has special responsibility for youth justice, today commented on the issues that have arisen with the management of cases of youth crime by An Garda Síochána.
Both Ministers described as “unacceptable” the fact that a proportion of crimes committed by young people were not properly followed through by An Garda Síochána over several years.
The Policing Authority, established by Government to provide independent oversight of policing, is examining the detail of the actions which are being taken by the Garda Commissioner. The Policing Authority had a public meeting with the Garda Commissioner today (Thursday) and stated that it will continue to publicly hold An Garda Síochána to account on this issue.
Minister Flanagan and Stanton will also be keeping the matter under continuing review.
Minister Flanagan said “The failure to properly manage these cases is very concerning. I welcome the fact that the Garda Commissioner, Drew Harris, has shown a dedication to tackle these problems urgently and take all appropriate action. Addressing any failings by individual Gardaí is clearly a matter for the Commissioner himself and his team.
“As the Commissioner outlined in his engagement with the Policing Authority today, a number of steps have already been taken within An Garda Síochána and actions are in train to prevent a recurrence of these failures. The Policing Authority will continue to play an active role in monitoring the situation.”
Minister of State Stanton added: “The Garda Youth Diversion Programme is a really important initiative that achieves a great deal for the community as a whole as well as for individuals in diverting troubled youngsters away from more serious crimes. It is important to point out that the issues raised by the extensive review of youth crime cases relate to cases that were deemed unsuitable for Programme. Therefore,there should be no negative implications in relation to the effectiveness of the programme itself, which is a crucial element of the criminal justice system.
“The tragic fact that some of the young people who had come to Garda attention have since died serves to highlight that many young offenders are themselves vulnerable individuals. While there is no direct connection between a failure to prosecute a case and these tragic deaths, it does underline the need to address offending in a strategic multi-agency manner as recommended by the Commission on the Future of Policing. The Government is committed to the implementation of the Commission’s report and a programme office has been established in the Department of the Taoiseach to oversee progress in this regard.”