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Public Order Offences.

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 18 November 2008

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Questions (232, 233, 234, 235)

Charles Flanagan

Question:

296 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of on-the-spot fines that gardaí have issued when persons are found to have been engaging in anti-social behaviour as defined in legislation annually since the enactment of the legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40937/08]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

The Criminal Justice Act 2006, as amended by the Intoxicating Liquor Act 2008, provides for the issue of fixed charge notices for the offences of intoxication in a public place and disorderly conduct in a public place, which are offences under sections 4 and 5 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994. To date there have been 44 fixed charge notices issued for offences under sections 4 and 5 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

297 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of anti-social behaviour orders issued to persons annually since the enactment of the legislation; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40938/08]

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John Cregan

Question:

308 Deputy John Cregan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of anti-social behaviour warnings that have been served in the County Limerick district in each division; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [41027/08]

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I propose to take Questions Nos. 297 and 308 together.

Part 11 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which provides for civil proceedings in relation to anti-social behaviour by adults, was commenced on 1 January, 2007. Part 13 of the Act relating to anti-social behaviour by children was commenced on 1 March, 2007. These provisions set out an incremental procedure for addressing anti-social behaviour by adults and children. With regard to children, these range from a warning from a member of An Garda Síochána, to a good behaviour contract involving the child and his or her parents or guardian, to referral to the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme and to the making of a behaviour order by the Children's Court.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that up to 31 October, 2008, 907 behaviour warnings to adults and 548 behaviour warnings to children were issued. There have also been two formal good behaviour contracts, which are used only in the case of children, agreed.

I am further informed that up to 30 September, 2008 there have been six applications made to the Courts for civil orders (adult) and behaviour orders (child) by members of An Garda Síochána. Three of these applications were successful resulting in two behaviour orders and one civil order being issued. During the period 1 January, 2007 to 31 October, 2008 the Limerick Garda Division issued 41 behaviour warnings to adults and 31 behaviour warnings, three good behaviour contracts and two behaviour orders to children. I am informed by the Garda authorities that it would require a disproportionate amount of Garda time and resources to provide the information requested at Garda District level.

Charles Flanagan

Question:

298 Deputy Charles Flanagan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if he has proposals to make it an offence to sell spray paints to persons under 18 years of age; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40939/08]

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I assume that the Deputy is referring to the use of spray paints in respect of graffiti offences.

In this regard, I am informed by the Garda authorities that section 2(1) of the Criminal Damage Act 1991 creates a simple offence of damaging property without lawful excuse. Section 4 of the Act creates the offence of having custody or control of anything with intent to cause damage to property. Both of these offences are punishable on summary conviction by a fine not exceeding €1,270 and/or imprisonment for a term not exceeding 12 months. Following conviction on indictment these offences are punishable by a fine not exceeding €12,697 and /or imprisonment not exceeding 10 years.

Section 7 of the Criminal Justice Act 2006 provides that where a Garda, who is in a public place or any other place under a power of entry authorised by law or to which he or she was expressly or implicitly invited or permitted to be, finds or comes into possession of anything he or she has reasonable grounds for believing that it is evidence of , or relating to, the commission of an arrestable offence, he or she may seize and retain it for use as evidence in any criminal proceedings for such a period from the date of seizure as is reasonable or, if proceedings are commenced in which it is required for use in evidence, until the conclusion of the proceedings. This section gives Gardaí a power to seize spray cans from young people found in possession of them as the offences listed, contrary to sections 2 and 4 of the Criminal Damage Act, 1991 are arrestable offences.

Given that a wide range of material is used to make graffiti, including lipstick, biros, pens and markers, so it is not just paint which can be the problem, I have no proposal to ban the sale of spray paint as the Deputy has suggested.

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