Thursday, 5 December 2019

Questions (138)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

138. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of minors referred to the national office on juvenile crime by Garda division in each of the past three years to date in 2019; the number referred to the youth diversion programme for prosecution or other in each case; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [50870/19]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Garda Youth Diversion Programme is a statutory programme under Part 4 of the Children Act 2001, as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2006, which focuses on preventing criminal behaviour as well as diversion from the criminal justice system and rehabilitation of children between 10 and 18 years of age. The programme is an essential part of Government strategy to help tackle youth crime, administered by An Garda Síochána, and it is very important that it operates effectively.

As the Deputy may be aware, the operation of the Garda Diversion Programme is monitored by a Committee established under Section 44 of the Children Act 2001, whose annual reports are laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas. The Annual Reports (including the most recent report for 2017) are available on my Department's website at http://www.iyjs.ie/. The published reports provide statistics on referrals to the Garda Diversion Programme.

The specific information sought by the Deputy is set out in tabular form on page 14 of the 2017 report which can be found at the following link; http://www.iyjs.ie/en/IYJS/2017%20Annual%20Report%20of%20Monitoring%20Committee%20(English).pdf/Files/2017%20Annual%20Report%20of%20Monitoring%20Committee%20(English).pdf. It should be noted that the figures set out in that table represent the number of referrals of minors to the Garda Diversion Programme, based on the Division in which the incident resulting in referral occurred.

I understand that the 2018 Report will be laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas as soon as possible. I further understand that the figures for 2019 are not yet available.

The Deputy may also wish to be aware that an expert Steering Group is currently developing a new Youth Justice Strategy, including a review of the Children Act. The Steering Group commenced its work in February and has had a series of meetings during this year which will continue into next year.

The Group is tasked with advising and guiding the development of the new Strategy, including consideration of the full range of issues connected to children and young people at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system, from early intervention and preventative work, including family support, diversion from crime, through to court processes and facilities, supervision of offenders, detention and reintegration and support post release. It is intended that the Strategy will be finalised in the first half of 2020.