Thursday 14 May 2015

Frances Fitzgerald, TD, today launches a new delivery model for services designed to address youth crime.

‘Kerry Empowering Youth – KEY’, A Kerry Garda Youth Justice Divisional Model is Ireland’s first Garda Divisional Model of Youth Justice programmes delivery.

In 2013, Kerry Diocesan Youth Service who delivered 6 Garda Youth Diversion Projects across Kerry, wanted to be able to reach young people who lived outside of the catchment area of the locations of the projects. Garda Youth Diversion Projects are run by community-based organisations on behalf of An Garda Síochána working in partnership with the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS).

Together, Kerry Divisional Garda Management, local Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers KDYS Management and Youth Justice Workers in the projects ( with support from Community Programmes, IYJS), developed a pilot model of delivery to extend the Garda Youth Diversion Project service out to the entire county within existing resources.

The new service delivery model has been very successful and has enabled KDYS in partnership with Kerry Divisional Gardaí to reach over 100 young people so far who would not have otherwise received support from trained Youth Justice Workers. While overall nationally, referrals to the Garda Youth Diversion Programme are down, innovative models of delivery will allow access to supports from Youth Justice Workers to be expanded to deliver services to young people currently beyond their reach and to target resources more effectively.

Launching the new service delivery model today in the Royal Irish Academy on Dawson Street, the Minister congratulated KDYS and Kerry Gardaí on the delivery of the new model and for their commitment to young people. The Minister said: “The new service is the first of its kind in the country and highlights the benefits of different organisations both community based like the KDYS and statutory bodies like the Gardaí and Irish Youth Justice working together to benefit young people. The new service will make a difference to the lives of young people in Kerry due to the dedication and commitment of all those involved.”

Minster Fitzgerald also said: “The national trend in youth crime is one of reduced incidences of offending and lower numbers of referrals to the Garda Youth Diversion Programme. This is good news. It indicates that the Garda Youth Diversion Programme has had some success and has made significant inroads in targeting supports to young people that effectively divert them towards more positive life choices. Fewer young people are coming to the attention of the Gardaí. This gives us a great opportunity to build on that trend and to better target our resources - towards those who do continue to come to their attention, including those who are repeat offenders, with the highest risk, and those young people living in areas who previously did not have access to Garda Youth Diversion Projects. With the launch of ‘KEY’, KDYS, Kerry Garda Division with support from IYJS are leading the way.”



Note for editors:

Community Based Programmes (Department of Justice and Equality)

Youth justice crime reduction / crime prevention community programmes are specifically targeted at young offenders and those at serious risk of offending. They provide essential support to the Garda Diversion Programme and to the effectiveness of the Garda Juvenile Liaison Officer system operated by An Garda Síochána and are a vital ingredient in enhancing community policing partnerships.

The purpose of youth crime intervention work is to engage young people in a process of learning and development that enables them to make positive lifestyle choices. The youth justice system through its community based projects targets early interventions to address those at risk of offending behaviour through the Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) and the Garda Diversion Programme and links with other service providers in supporting pro-social messages to young people.

Their objectives are to:

Ø Promote focussed and effective interventions through GYDPs to challenge and divert young people from offending behaviour.

Ø Utilise GYDP resources in areas of greatest need and to establish effective crime prevention supports in co-operation with other youth service providers nationwide.

Ø Actively promote crime prevention policy through focussed educational interventions influencing positive development of young people towards becoming responsible citizens.

Garda Youth Diversion Projects

Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) are nationwide, community-based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives, funded by the Dept of Justice and Equality through the Community Programmes Unit, Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS), which seek to divert young people from becoming involved in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour. The GYDPs are designed to engage with young people who have been identified as being at risk of involvement in criminal or anti-social behaviour. They operate in tandem with the Garda Diversion Programme. They aim to bring about the conditions whereby the behavioural patterns of young people towards law and order can develop and mature through positive interventions and interaction with the project. The projects are particularly targeted at 12-17 year old “at risk” youths in communities where a specific need has been identified and where there is a risk of them remaining within the justice system.

Supported by the Garda National Youth Diversion Office (GNYDO), each project is managed by a Community Based Organisation (CBO) under the terms of a Funding Agreement. CBOs are required to ensure that best practice is followed in terms of quality of service and financial accountability.

Breakdown of CBO distribution of projects:

· Youth Work Ireland (15 individual CBOs) – 37 projects

· Foróige – 34 projects

· Catholic Youth Care – 11 projects

· 18 Independent CBOs (1 project each)

Young People’s Probation (YPP)

YPP is a division of the Probation Service with specialised resources to work with young people aged 12 to 18 who come before the courts. The Probation Service provides a dedicated input ensuring a child and family centred focus in addressing the presenting issues within the criminal justice context. The work of the Service is supported through a national network of community based projects. This approach allows for a national approach for the assessment and supervision of young persons, at all times delivered within the context of local need.


Just under €17 million has been allocated to IYJS Community Programmes in 2015.

Just over €11 million is allocated to deliver the Garda Youth Diversion Projects (incorporating Local Drugs Task Force Projects).

Nearly €5 million is allocated to Young Persons Probation Community Projects in 2015.

From 2015, GYDP and some YPP will be co-funded under the Programme for Employment, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) of the European Social Fund 2014-2020. It is expected that €84 million will be allocated to the GYDP and YPP over the course of PEIL.

Other Community Programmes developments in 2015

During 2014/2015 progress continued to be made on measures to align resource allocation models to address local youth crime needs. A pilot, undertaken in the Kerry Garda Division, facilitated a service delivery across the full division/ county as opposed to the traditional GYDP catchment areas. The pilot proved to be successful and the new service delivery model ‘Kerry Empowering Youth’ is being launched on the 14th May 2015.

The Irish Youth Justice Service opened discussions with Garda Management and community based organisations delivering GYDPs in Cork City to commence a similar process of realigning service delivery to reach areas which are not currently served by the existing projects in the city.

Four new measures were also trialled in 15 selected GYDP sites across the country under the capacity-building & change management programme of the Garda Youth Diversion Projects in 2014 to enable them to better focus on local youth crime problems. In 2015 the successful strands of the trial will be mainstreamed to all GYDPs and all Youth Justice Workers will be trained in the use of the Risk Assessment model YLS/CMI 2.0.

Irish Youth Justice Service

The Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) is responsible for leading and driving reform in the youth justice area under the principles of the Children Act 2001. Responsibility for the criminal justice elements of the Children Act 2001 is with the Minister for Justice and Equality. Responsibility for children detained on remands or sentenced on conviction transferred to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs with effect from 1st January 2012 (S.I. 668/2012). It is staffed by officials from both Departments and is located in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

The remit of IYJS is to improve the delivery of youth justice services and reduce youth offending. This challenge is met by focusing on diversion and rehabilitation involving greater use of community-based interventions and the promotion of initiatives to deal with young people who offend. The key stakeholders supporting IYJS in its work include An Garda Síochána, Probation Service, Courts Service; Tusla, HSE, the Children Detention Schools, management and staff of community based organisations delivering Garda Youth Diversion Projects and Young Person Probation Community Projects.

Children Act 2001 principles

The youth justice system should be considered in its entirety, from the Garda Diversion Programme through to the Children Courts and the Children Detention Schools. Under the Children Act 2001 the age of criminal responsibility is 12 years and a “child” is defined as a person under the age of 18 years. The principles of the Act require the various authorities to apply incrementally a series of "filters" or tests to each case where a child comes into conflict with the law. These principles include:-

· A child who accepts responsibility for his/ her offending behaviour should be diverted from criminal proceedings, where appropriate.

· Children have rights and freedoms before the law equal to those enjoyed by adults and a right to be heard and to participate in any proceedings affecting them.

· Detention should be imposed as a last resort and may only be imposed if it is the only suitable way of dealing with the child.

· Due regard to the interests of the victim.

· A child’s age and level of maturity may be taken into consideration as mitigating factors in determining a penalty.

The first main filter is the Garda Diversion Programme, involving the informal caution (without supervision) and the formal (supervised) caution, including possible involvement with a Garda Youth Diversion Project (GYDP). The second main filter is provided by the non-custodial options available to the Courts, including dismissal under the Probation Act and unsupervised sanctions (fines, disqualification, peace bond, curfew etc.). The next stage involves the Probation supervised sanctions (community service and other community sanctions). Finally, as a last resort, detention may be used.

‘Tackling Youth Crime’ Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018

This Plan has been developed in consultation with key stakeholders involving representatives from the Department of Justice and Equality, An Garda Síochána; Courts Service; Probation Service; Child and Family Agency; the National Education Welfare Board; and Board of Management of the Children Detention Schools, youth justice workers and managers attached to the Garda Youth Diversion Projects. The views of young people have also informed the development of the Plan, in particular those expressed in the national consultation published in the report Life as a Child and Young Person in Ireland; Report of a National Consultation which was conducted by Department of Children and Youth Affairs to inform the development of the Children and Young People’s Policy Framework.

The Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018 is a follow up to the National Youth Justice Strategy 2008-2010. It builds on the work done through the initial Strategy but will have a greater focus on performance through the implementation of evidence-based policies. It also forms part of the National Anti-Crime Strategy being developed by the Department of Justice and Equality as part of the White Paper on Crime process, with its focus on crime reduction and safer communities. Also, while the Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018 focuses on changing the offending behaviour of young people involved in the youth justice system, it also complements the outcomes of the proposed Children and Young People’s Policy Framework (CYPPF) being developed in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, with its focus on better outcomes for children and families.

The focus of the Action Plan will be to continue the downward trends in high volume crime and detention, (Youth crime constitutes up to 15% of all crime (excluding road traffic offences). The typical offending that young people become involved in (e.g. public order crime, alcohol and drug misuse) is often distressing for members of the public and while we know that youth crime will always be a concern, we also now know from hard data that the vast majority of young people grow out of crime), becoming more adept in understanding and intervening in more serious crime offending patterns; and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of these interventions in addressing the behaviour and needs of these children. The Plan involves evidence-informed targeted interventions to achieve better outcomes for children who get into trouble with the law, and to reduce crime leading to safer communities. Importantly, the voice and experiences of children involved in the youth justice system have influenced the development of these interventions.

High Level Goals of Action Plan: -

· To work together to ensure public confidence in dealing with young people in trouble with the law

· To strengthen and develop our evidence base to support more effective policies and services, having regard to the voice of young people

· To review and strengthen targeted interventions to reduce offending and divert young people from the criminal justice system

· To promote and increase the use of community measures, including restorative justice, for young people who offend

· To provide a safe, secure environment and necessary support for detained young people to assist their re-integration into the community