As the Deputy will be aware, the newly designed community intervention programme, based on the research of the Greentown Project, will offer new hope and opportunities for children caught up in serious and prolific crime.
This new evidence-informed model will be trialed on a pilot basis in two communities over a period of three years, and each will be overseen by a local advisory committee involving state agencies and community representatives.
The locations of the pilots (one in Dublin and one in a provincial town) are not being disclosed to ensure that the work can continue in a discrete manner and without compromising safety or stigmatising individual communities.
I am informed that four core elements will be implemented to make up the Greentown Programme: Network Disruption; Improving Community Efficacy; Improved Pro-Social Opportunities; and Improved Family Functioning.
The programme will identify and target individuals involved in cultivating relationships with children for crime, and employ legitimate means to disturb this activity. There will be local activities designed to improve the ability of the local community to withstand network influence and take back control of public spaces.
Children who are involved in a criminal network will be encouraged and incentivised to re-engage with school, training or to secure and sustain employment.
There will also be a focus on intensive case-work with families to improve parenting capacity, and protecting the child and family from exploitative network relationships.
Importantly, the University of Limerick REPPP project will provide the scientific supports for the trial.
The pilots will get underway shortly and the lessons learned from the pilots, which will be evaluated after two years, will have a key influence on the development of my Department’s ongoing development of policies and interventions in the youth justice area.