Minister of State James Browne meets with Solas Project
10 February, 2021
Minister of State with responsibility for Youth Justice, James Browne TD, this morning met with the CEO of the Solas project, Amy Carey and Lead Youth Justice Worker Aishling Golden.
The Solas Rua project is based in Dublin 8 and works with young people who are at most risk of involvement in crime and anti-social behaviour. Solas Rua operates an intensive, 4-year programme of work with young people to support them making the transition to a more positive life, providing personal development and training opportunities and linking in with other relevant education and social services.
This meeting was an opportunity to discuss the challenges they encounter in their front-line engagement with young people. It also afforded the staff a chance to report on the new intervention models which they had developed, and which were launched by Minister Browne on 20 November 2020.
Following the meeting, Minister Browne said,
“The work of Solas is particularly important in our efforts to divert vulnerable young people from a life of crime. Solas engages with children and young people who are most at risk of involvement in criminal activity. While this is a relatively small number of children, they are often the hardest to reach.
“An important aspect of the new Youth Justice Strategy will be to enhance the engagement with children and young people who are most at risk of involvement in criminal activity, principally by enhancing the services available through the existing 105 Garda Youth Diversion Projects”
“This work must include a strong focus on the hard-to-reach cohort. I met with Solas Rua today with my officials to learn from their experience. The lessons learned from the work of the Solas project will be important in developing more widespread provision for this group of young people and embedding this work across the entire network of community-based youth justice projects my Department funds.”
This meeting is one of a series of upcoming meetings between Minister of State Browne and groups working in the youth justice area. They provide an opportunity for front line organisations to share their experience and further inform policy making within the Department of Justice as the new Youth Justice Strategy nears publication in the coming weeks.
Note for Editors
Policy context for development of the new Youth Justice Strategy
The proportion of our children and young people involved in crime is extremely small. The Youth Justice System generally interacts with those aged 12- 17, of which Census 2016 recorded about 375,000 in the 12-17 years age category. Garda figures indicates that about 3% of that number will commit an offence annually.
In youth cases coming before the Courts, over 50% are dismissed, struck out or taken into consideration, highlighting the comparatively minor nature of a lot of youth crime. Garda experience indicates that a significant number of young people who commit a crime will effectively “grow out” of offending behaviour as they mature into adulthood. However, a very small but hard-to-reach cohort, of in excess of 1,000 under 18s, engage in serious or persistent criminal offending, a significant amount of which is drug-related and connected to the activities of organised criminal networks.
Solas Project RUA Programme
The RUA programme works intensively with a group of young people excluded from regular GYDPs due to their level of offending both in terms of frequency and/or seriousness of their offences or their failure to engage or co-operate with existing provision. RUA works closely with the local Gardaí and the National Garda Diversion Office in terms of identifying suitable referrals. The work is focussed on the Dublin 8 areas. RUA adopts a youth work/mentoring approach in engaging with and supporting the members of the target groups.
The project initially targeted 20 young people and has reported considerable progress already in effectively engaging with most of them. There is also a waiting list of young people for support in future as resources allow. While small in number the target group are responsible for over 50% of all offences referred to the National Juvenile office for the district.
RUA was initially funded for a two-year pilot programme and commenced in August 2017, this has been extended since.