Minister Andrews welcomes reduction in youth crime

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Mr. Barry Andrews, T.D., today published the 2009 Annual Report on the Garda Diversion Programme.

The Minister welcomed the reduction of 13% in the number of incidents referred to the programme and the 14% reduction in the number of children referred. In 2009, 18,519 children were referred, a drop of 2,893 on the previous year.

The Minister noted that the majority of children who were admitted to the programme were given an informal caution, i.e. a caution without Juvenile Liaison Officer (JLO) supervision (10,059). This represents a reduction of 15% on the previous year.  A caution without supervision is generally applied for a first offence or a repeat minor offence.

Just under 4,000 children were given a formal caution, with a period of JLO supervision. 2,966 children were deemed unsuitable for diversion and these files were returned to the local superintendent for possible prosecution.

Minister Andrews noted that 7 new Juvenile Liaison Officer posts were created and filled in 2009, bringing the total number of JLOs to 116 across the country. A additional 7 JLO posts are due to be created and filled during 2010.

The top three youth offence categories for 2009 were alcohol offences (17.6%), theft (16.6%) and traffic offences (13%). When compared to 2008, alcohol offences were down by 22%, traffic by 25% and theft by 3.5%.

The Minister recognised that it was important not to get complacent and that efforts to reduce and prevent youth crime must continue. The implementation of the National Youth Justice Strategy and the efforts of the Irish Youth Justice Service and it's strategic partners, especially An Garda Síochána and the Probation Service, have a vital part to play.

The Minister was particularly pleased to note that An Garda Síochána were recently presented with a Public Service Excellence Award by an Taoiseach for their Youth Crime Case Management System. This excellent programme is currently being rolled out across the country.

The Report is available on the websites of the Irish Youth Justice Service and An Garda Síochána 

19 August 2010

Note for Editors 

1. 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 persons away from crime by offering guidance and support to juveniles and their families.

2. The Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) is an executive office of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform with responsibility for leading and driving reform in the area of youth justice. Working closely with the Office of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, the IYJS is guided by the principles of the Children Act 2001. The IYJS funds organisations and projects, including Garda and Probation Projects, providing services to young people aged 12 to 17 years of age who find themselves in conflict with the law. IYJS is also responsible for the management and development of children detention facilities. The Community Programmes element of the IYJS budget is approximately 17 million euro for 2010, of which nearly 12 million is earmarked for Garda Youth Diversion Projects.

3. Garda Youth Diversion Projects are funded by the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS), through An Garda Síochána. 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. There are currently 100 of these projects operating throughout the country. Most projects are located within areas of high social deprivation.