Juvenile Offenders

Questions (654)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

654. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the extent to which juvenile liaison officers have been allocated to each Garda district throughout the country; the ongoing plans in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7144/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Commissioner is responsible, by law, for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including personnel matters and deployment of resources. The allocation of Garda resources is made in light of identified operational demand, and this includes deployment of personnel among the various Garda Divisions. As Minister, I have no direct role in these operational decisions.

I am advised by the Garda Commissioner that Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers (JLOs) are specially trained to fulfil a key role in implementing the Garda Diversion Programme. Their role includes the administration of formal and informal cautions as well as appropriate supervision of children who have been admitted to the Diversion Programme, as provided in Part 4 of the Children Act 2001.

I am further informed by the Garda Commissioner that the information requested by the Deputy is not readily available in the format requested, as JLOs are assigned on a Garda Divisional basis. Accordingly, for the Deputy's information, the attached table provided by the Garda Commissioner contains the appropriate statistics on a Divisional basis as at 31 December 2020, the latest date for which figures are currently available.

Division

Inspector

Sergeants

Garda

Total

Cavan/Monaghan

2

2

Clare

2

2

Cork City

1

6

7

Cork North

3

3

Cork West

2

2

D.M.R.East

1

5

6

D.M.R.North

1

6

7

D.M.R.North Central

1

3

4

D.M.R.South

1

9

10

D.M.R.South Central

1

4

5

D.M.R.West

9

9

Donegal

3

3

Galway

4

4

Kerry

4

4

Kildare

3

3

Kilkenny/Carlow

2

2

Laois/Offaly

3

3

Limerick

1

5

6

Louth

3

3

Mayo

2

2

Meath

3

3

Roscommon/Longford

2

2

Sligo/Leitrim

1

1

Tipperary

3

3

Waterford

4

4

Westmeath

2

2

Wexford

3

3

Wicklow

4

4

Total

7

102

109

An Garda Síochána has been allocated an unprecedented budget of €1.952 billion for 2021. This level of funding is enabling sustained, ongoing recruitment of Garda members and staff. As a result, Garda numbers are now over 14,600 Garda members and over 3,000 Garda staff nationwide. Budget 2021 will allow for the recruitment of up to 620 new Gardaí and an extra 500 Garda staff.

For information on the Garda Workforce please see the link below.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/Garda_Workforce

For more general information on Garda facts and figures please see the link below.

http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/An_Garda_Siochana_facts_and_figures

Crime Data

Questions (655)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

655. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the number of members of criminal gangs due to be released from prison in 2021; the extent of plans to ensure they do not return to criminal ways; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7145/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service (IPS) that there are currently 183 prisoners in custody associated with known criminal gangs, with 39 of those due for release in 2021. The Deputy will wish to note that this figure excludes the subversive prisoners in Portlaoise Prison.

Membership or allegiance of these criminal groups fluctuates on a continuous basis with some persons breaking links and others becoming affiliated on a daily basis. It is also the case that prisoners will not always declare their affiliation to certain groupings and it is therefore not possible to provide definitive numbers in relation to the number of known members of criminal groupings currently in custody. It should also be noted that more than one criminal gang may group together under the umbrella of a particular group and in some instances some gangs may form splinter groups due to family or in house disputes.

A suite of assessment and intervention pathways are available to violent offenders in prison to address dynamic risk factors known to be associated with violent offending, in order to reduce risk of re-offending and enhance public protection. This includes offence focused and/or mental health intervention by the IPS Psychology Service and/or Probation Service on an individual or group basis. All violent offenders with a sentence of over 2 years on committal are pro-actively targeted to assess and/or identify the clinical needs/risk factors that led to their offending. This includes those convicted of a gangland violence. In addition specialist programmes, including a gang desistance group, are currently being developed, which incorporates collaboration with men with a history of gang involvement in the development and facilitation of the programme.

A full range of policies, procedures and standard operating procedures are used by the IPS to identify, monitor and manage specific individuals. Management and staff have to ensure that the various factions are kept apart and, as far as possible, that gang members do not have influence over other inmates or criminal activities outside the prisons.

Measures taken on a continuous basis include regular targeted searching; placement in high security locations; close supervision of all visits including the use of screened visits and the barring of certain visitors; the use of CCTV, metal detectors and mobile phone detectors; and the examination and monitoring of mail and telephone calls. The Operational Support Group has a core function to gather and collate intelligence information on criminal gang members in our prisons and to carry out intelligence led searches.

In addition, there is regular contact between the IPS and An Garda Síochána to discuss security issues including the operation of criminal gangs and the release of prisoners who form part of these groupings.

Crime Data

Questions (656)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

656. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the number of prisoners in each prison throughout the country currently undergoing rehabilitative or educational training; the number of unsuccessful applicants for such courses; the number that were successful in the past 12 months; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7146/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can inform the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service (IPS) provides a wide range of rehabilitative programmes to those in custody including education, vocational training, healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, addiction counselling, welfare and spiritual services. These programmes can offer purposeful activity to those in custody while serving their sentences and encouraging them to lead law abiding lives on release. Programmes are available in all prisons and all prisoners are eligible to engage with the services.

On committal, all prisoners are interviewed by the Governor and are informed of the services available in the prison. Prisoners may be referred to services or they can self-refer at a later date. Where Governors consider, on the information available, that a prisoner needs a particular intervention they will initiate a referral.

The strategic objective to have a multi-agency approach to offender management and rehabilitation from pre to post imprisonment in order to reduce re-offending and improve prisoner outcomes, forms a central part of the Prison and Probation Service Joint Strategic Plan.

The IPS Psychology Service operates an integrated, stepped care service model, working with both mental health and criminogenic risk and need. Currently, prison psychologists are engaging with between 620 - 650 people in custody which includes assessment and-or intervention which can be either group or individual rehabilitative programmes.

Education in prisons is delivered in partnership between the Education Training Boards and the IPS in line with the joint Strategy 2019 - 2021 which sets out a commitment to the provision of a broad and flexible curriculum and includes supporting integration and sentence planning.

The focus is on providing education which is quality assured, student centred and which facilitates lifelong learning. Data on the average weekly attendances in Prison Education Centres in 2020 is set out in Table 1 below. It is important to note that Education Centres were closed due to Covid-19 from March 2020 to August 2020.

The guiding principles of vocational training services are to make, work, work-training and other purposeful activities available to all those in custody. Training activities are designed to give as much variety as possible and also to give opportunities for those in prison to acquire practical skills which will help them secure employment on release. The average prison population engaged in vocational training in 2020 per prison is set out in Table 2.

The IPS has also been expanding the number of accredited courses and opportunities available to prisoners in Work Training in recent years. Enhanced partnership arrangements with accrediting bodies along with the centralising of coordination and quality assurance arrangements have enabled the prison service to extend the number of available courses and activities with certification to people in custody. Unfortunately, the manner in which records are collated does not allow the provision of statistics on those who were successful or unsuccessful applicants for such training.

Education Unit

2020

JANUARY

FEBRUARY

SEPTEMBER

OCTOBER

NOVEMBER

DECEMBER

Arbour Hill

97

73

71

84

86

90

Castlerea

117

92

43

80

87

91

Cloverhill

73

54

25

46

57

46

Cork

139

112

45

82

94

88

Dochas

89

57

48

70

67

58

Limerick

115

88

69

86

49

79

Loughan

75

82

67

71

74

69

Midlands

350

279

183

274

139

280

Mountjoy

198

144

75

179

199

150

Portlaoise

140

94

110

131

126

127

Shelton Abbey

48

32

31

31

31

36

MJ West

96

70

54

78

89

96

Wheatfield

203

150

70

80

144

153

1740

1327

891

1292

1242

1363

January

February

March

April

May

June

July

August

September

October

November

December

Arbour Hill

72

74

60

57

61

62

65

65

62

55

53

59

Castlerea

N/A

N/A

N/A

59

60

50

52

54

60

59

58

71

Cloverhill

29

28

31

29

37

32

27

28

27

25

26

28

Cork

50

44

43

37

37

38

38

37

36

49

38

38

Dochas

59

61

53

40

40

40

41

41

41

46

41

45

Limerick

71

70

68

69

60

53

55

52

47

55

55

54

Loughan House

95

96

89

66

62

64

64

69

73

74

72

70

Midlands

182

184

151

120

124

132

138

151

130

146

137

143

Mountjoy

76

75

72

47

44

53

84

81

80

76

68

65

Portlaoise

51

54

53

51

48

52

55

56

60

59

56

49

Shelton Abbey

49

46

47

52

57

58

60

59

59

59

59

60

Wheatfield

97

107

94

75

77

65

74

76

69

72

74

73

831

838

761

700

708

699

751

770

744

774

736

755

Prisoner Rehabilitation Programmes

Questions (657, 658)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

657. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the degree of research into the subsequent activities of prisoners who on their first offence and conviction were afforded educational or rehabilitative training; the extent of any subsequent offences; the number of such prisoners known not to reoffend; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7147/21]

View answer

Bernard Durkan

Question:

658. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the extent to which investment in rehabilitative training within the prison system continues to be made available to first time offenders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7148/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 657 and 658 together.

Prisoner care and rehabilitation is a core aim of the Irish Prison Service. The Service tries to achieve a balanced approach in the effective performance of its care and custody functions and seeks to manage sentences in a way which encourages and supports prisoners in their efforts to live law abiding and purposeful lives on release.

I can inform the Deputy that various forms of rehabilitative training within the prison system continues to be made available to all prisoners, including first time offenders.

There is a wide range of rehabilitative programmes available in all prisons and to all prisoners. These include education, vocational training, healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, addiction counselling, welfare and spiritual services and are provided with the aim of offering purposeful activity to all those in custody while serving their sentences.

It may interest the Deputy to know that the Prison Psychology Service proactively target specific cohorts of prisoners including for example, violent offenders with over two year sentence, as well as 18-24 year olds in custody. Assistant Psychologists have been recruited since 2016 and their focus is primarily on mental health and sentence management work with prisoners. They are tasked with engaging and motivating this cohort of prisoners, who are committed to custody on a sentence of one year or more and who do not have a post-release supervision order to develop a sentence plan and to engage in appropriate interventions.

The Probation Service have joined this initiative by engaging in assessments with those 18-24 year olds who have post release supervision orders. The strategic objective to have a multi-agency approach to offender management and rehabilitation from pre to post imprisonment in order to reduce re-offending and improve prisoner outcomes, forms a central part of the Prison and Probation Service Joint Strategic Plan.

There is a clear commitment to enhance sentence planning through Integrated Sentence Management and the delivery of prison based rehabilitative programmes. The Joint IPS/ETBI Education Strategy 2019 - 2021 sets out a commitment to the provision of broad based education provision and includes supporting integration and sentence planning. Education in prisons is delivered in partnership between the Education Training Boards and the IPS and a broad and flexible curriculum is provided. A top priority for the IPS is ensuring help for those with literacy problems, and to this end, peer mentoring programmes are currently active in all prisons.

The IPS has also been expanding the number of accredited courses and opportunities available to prisoners in Work Training in recent years. Enhanced partnership arrangements with accrediting bodies such as City and Guilds, the Guild of Cleaners and Launderers and Cleanpass and the centralising of coordination and quality assurance arrangements have enabled the IPS to extend the number of available courses and activities with certification to people in custody.

The guiding principles which underpin the prisons' work and training service are to make available work, work-training and other purposeful activities to all those in custody. Activities are chosen to give as much variety as possible and also to give opportunities to acquire practical skills which will help secure employment on release. Work Training Officers have been appointed and assigned to areas such as catering, laundry, industrial cleaning, industrial skills.

The Deputy may also be aware that I recently launched in the "Working to Change Social Enterprise Strategy - 2021-2023" which sets out my Department’s direction for supporting employment options for people with convictions by simultaneously working to remove the systemic barriers so that people can make sustainable changes. It builds upon a solid foundation of employment supports already in place across the criminal justice sector and is a collaboration between the Prison and the Probation Service and my Department. A copy of the Strategy can be found on the website of my Department at www.justice.ie.

Prisoner Data

Questions (659)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

659. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the number of offenders who have reoffended in each of the past three years to date while on bail or while awaiting the outcome of previous offences; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7149/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The information sought has been requested and will be provided to the Deputy once it has been received, checked and collated.

Garda Stations

Questions (660)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

660. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the number and location of Garda stations throughout the country deemed to need refurbishment; her plans for same; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7150/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is by law responsible for the management and control of An Garda Síochána and for the effective and efficient use of Garda resources, including all Garda stations. Further, the Office of Public Works (OPW) has responsibility for the provision and maintenance of Garda accommodation. Works in relation to Garda accommodation are therefore progressed by the Garda authorities working in close cooperation with the OPW.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the information provided in the table below sets out projects that were in development at 22 December 2020. I have requested an up to date report from the Garda authorities which I will furnish to the Deputy once I receive it.

I am advised that the details provided focus on works of a more substantial nature that seek to replace a Garda Station, construct a new Garda Station or make a significant enhancement to the Station by way of full refurbishment or enlargement of the facility, having regard to the funding available and the competing priorities on accommodation within the Garda estate.

The details below do not outline the work conducted to maintain Garda Stations across the country or the more minor upgrade works that take place on a regular basis.

Garda Station

Description of Project

Status – as per OPW

Anglesea St GS

Upgrade works to allows accommodation of Cyber Crime Unit

On Site

Anglesea St GS

Control Room Upgrade Works

Design Stage

Athlone

Refurbishment, extension and alteration of the existing station to include the adjacent former Government Buildings. Expected completion Q1/early Q2 2021.

On Site

Bailieborough GS

Development of new District Headquarters

Moving to issue tenders

Bridewell GS Dublin

Refurbishment works

Design stage

Carlow GS

Reconfiguration of prisoner entrance

Design Stage

Cavan ASU

Enhancements to Cavan Garda Station to include Accommodation for a new North Western Region Armed Support Unit and a new public office

On Site

Clonmel

New station to be procured as a PPP

Part IX Planning permission application process

Clonmel GS

Fit out of locker rooms and Fire safety works

Tender Stage

Donegal Town GS

Refurbishment and extension of existing Station

Handover

Donnybrook GS

Replacement of existing changing facilities and refurbishment of public entrance at Donnybrook GS

Design Stage

Drogheda GS

Provide new PEMS facility

Procurement stage

Fitzgibbon St

Full refurbishment of the existing station

On Site

Greystones GS

Refurbishment works

Design stage

Henry Street

Replacement of Prefabricated Units housing Locker Rooms

Contract awarded

Longford GS

New Cell Block and Refurbishment works at Longford Garda Station

On Site

Macroom

New station to be procured as a PPP

Part IX Planning permission application process

Macroom GS

Provision of additional temporary accommodation

On site

Naas GS

Provide new PEMS facility

Planning stage

Navan GS

Provision of a new two-storey building at Navan GS including a new cell block and additional office space

Tender Stage

Newcastle West

New Station to replace existing Station

Design Stage

Portlaoise

Refurbishment, extension and alteration of the existing station.

Part IX Planning permission application process

Roscommon GS

Cell Upgrade and Refurbishment Works.

On Site

Sligo GS

Cell upgrade and refurbishment works for the provision of a new custody suite including new cells and prisoner processing area as well as solicitor and doctor's rooms.

On Site

Store St GS

Reconfiguration of the ground floor of Store Street GS

Design Stage

Swords GS

Demolition of the existing accommodation and provision of temporary decant accommodation.

On Site

Tallaght GS

Provide new PEMS facility

Design stage

Togher GS

Fabric Upgrade and Universal Access works

Tender Stage

Prisoner Data

Questions (661)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

661. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the number of prisoners who have absconded in the past 12 months; the number still at large; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7151/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Irish Prison Service defines an absconder as a prisoner who leaves an Open Centre without the relevant approval.

The Deputy will wish to be aware that An Garda Síochána are informed when prisoners abscond and they have the power to detain, arrest, and return such persons to prison.

Experience has shown that the vast majority of offenders who abscond return voluntarily or are returned to custody to complete their sentences within a short time frame.

I am advised by the Irish Prison Service from 8 February 2020, 13 persons were deemed to have absconded in the past 12 months and that of that number, one individual remains unlawfully at large.

Crime Data

Questions (662)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

662. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the extent to which racism and hate speech or hate mail continues to be targeted as an offence in need of urgent attention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7152/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Government is fully committed to the fight against racism, prejudice and bigotry, and strongly condemns the actions of those who abuse and attack others, because of their own prejudices against a person’s religion, ethnic origins, sexual orientation or any other part of their identity as a human being. Ireland is a diverse and tolerant country, and such behaviour is not acceptable.

Under the Programme for Government there is a commitment to:

- Introduce the Hate Crime legislation within 12 months of the formation of the Government. It is intended that this legislation will create specific offences to ensure that those who target victims because of their association with a particular identity characteristic are identified as perpetrators of hate crime. This legislation will be on the basis of an aggravated offences model, and will be supported by training across the criminal justice system, as well as victim supports.

- Publish a new national action plan against racism.

In relation to the first commitment, I recently announced my intention to bring forward new legislation to combat incitement to hatred and hate crime in Ireland. This announcement followed on from the publication of the results of a widespread consultation process, which included in-depth consultations with various civil society and community groups, academics and experts, a public consultation process and a detailed comparative study of approaches to hate crime in 5 other jurisdictions.

The purpose of this extensive work was to ensure my Department could identify how Ireland’s law in this area could be improved, based on a clear understanding of the experiences of those impacted by hate speech and hate crime.

The Deputy will be able to see from the report and the appendices that many of those who engaged in the consultation process were victims of hate speech and hate crime themselves, while others were concerned about the very real need to respect the human rights of everyone involved, including the right to freedom of speech.

The report and its appendices are available on - http://www.justice.ie/en/JELR/Legislating_for_Hate_Speech_and_Hate_Crime_in_Ireland_Web.pdf/Files/Legislating_for_Hate_Speech_and_Hate_Crime_in_Ireland_Web.pdf

I have tasked my officials with drawing on the conclusions of the Report to draft the General Scheme of a new Hate Crime Bill, which will deal with both incitement to hatred and hate crime. It is my intention to bring the General Scheme to Government before Easter of this year. The new legislation will provide the necessary means to prosecute perpetrators who deliberately or recklessly incite hatred against others on the basis of a protected characteristic, while bearing in mind the provisions of the Constitution and our human rights obligations including those contained in the European Convention on Human Rights Act 2003 to protect the right to freedom of expression. It is my intention to publish the General Scheme of this Bill before Easter.

In relation to the second mentioned Programme for Government commitment, my Department established an independent Anti-Racism Committee chaired by Professor Caroline Fennell (UCC Professor of Law and Commissioner with the Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission). The Committee is tasked with producing a draft national action plan against racism in accordance with the Programme for Government Commitments within one year. Following on from the transfer of functions, which saw equality matters moved from my Department to Department of Children, Equality, Integration and Youth, the committee provided an interim report to Minister O’Gorman at the end of November.

The Committee comprises people from diverse backgrounds from the business, education, local government, academic and advocacy sector, including those with lived experience of racism and it will examine all forms of racism in Ireland.

I am confident that the approach being taken by Government to these commitments - including research and providing the opportunity for experts and members of the public to provide their views - will help to ensure that the legislation and strategies we develop to combat racism and incitement to hatred will deliver a safer, fairer and more inclusive Ireland for everyone, now as well as into the future.

Prisoner Data

Questions (663)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

663. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the number of prisoners currently incarcerated in each prison throughout the country; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7154/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that the information requested by the Deputy in relation to the number of prisoners in custody in each of the prisons is published on a daily basis and this information is available on the Irish Prison Service website www.irishprisons.ie.

This breakdown includes the number of prisoners in custody and the bed capacity in each prison. The information can be found in the Information Centre – under Statistics & Information – Daily Prisoner Population.

See prisoner population figures as of Tuesday, 9 February 2021, displayed in Table 1 below.

Table 1 - Prisoner Population on Tuesday 9th February 2021

INSTITUTION

Number in Custody

Mountjoy (m)

695

Mountjoy (f)

121

Cloverhill

370

Wheatfield

483

Midlands

819

Portlaoise

214

( Block A)

24

(Block C)

165

(Block E)

25

Cork

268

Limerick (m)

193

Limerick (f)

32

Castlerea

282

Arbour Hill

121

Loughan House

102

Shelton Abbey

84

Total

3,784

Prisoner Releases

Questions (664)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

664. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the extent to which first-time offenders remain eligible for early release on foot of good behaviour or otherwise; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7155/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that all prisoners who are sentenced to a term of imprisonment, with the exception of prisoners without a determined sentence, for example, life sentence prisoners, qualify for one quarter remission on the basis of good behaviour.

In addition, prisoners who have engaged in authorised structured activity may apply to receive enhanced remission of greater than one quarter but not exceeding one third of their sentence.

In order for a prisoner to be granted enhanced remission, the Minister for Justice must be satisfied that the prisoner is less likely to re-offend and is better able to re-integrate into the community.

The principles governing the awarding of enhanced remission are contained under Rule 59 of the Prison Rules 2007 to 2014 (S.I. No. 252 of 2007 and S.I. No. 385 of 2014).

For all applications, the following factors are considered -

- the manner and extent to which the prisoner has engaged constructively in authorised structured activity;

- the manner and extent to which the prisoner has taken steps to address his or her offending behaviour;

- the nature and gravity of the offence to which the sentence of imprisonment being served by the prisoner relates;

- the sentence of imprisonment concerned and any recommendations of the court that imposed that sentence in relation thereto;

- the period of the sentence served by the prisoner;

- the potential threat to the safety and security of members of the public (including the victim of the offence to which the sentence of imprisonment being served by the prisoner relates) should the prisoner be released from prison;

- any offence of which the prisoner was convicted before being convicted of the offence to which the sentence of imprisonment being served by him or relates;

- the conduct of the prisoner while in custody or during a period of temporary release;

- any report of, or recommendation made by the Governor of the prison, an Garda Síochána, any probation officer or any other person whom the Minister considers would be of assistance in making a decision on an application.

Gangland Crime

Questions (665)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

665. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the extent to which repeat offenders are being granted bail including those who are members of organised criminal gangs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7156/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy may be aware, the decision to grant bail in a particular case is a matter for the presiding Judge, who is independent in the exercise of his or her judicial functions.

There is also a Constitutional presumption in favour of the grant of bail as, under Irish Law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.

The specific information is not yet maintained in such a way as to provide the response sought by the Deputy and my general position remains as outlined in my response to the Deputy in Parliamentary Question 361 of 10 December 2020.

Gangland Crime

Questions (666)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

666. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the legislative proposals to address the issue of membership of criminal gangs with particular reference to combating the level to which young offenders may be lured into such activity; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7157/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Diverting young people away from getting involved in criminal activity is a key priority for the Government and the exploitation of young people and children is a particular concern.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for Government includes a commitment to criminalise adults who groom children to commit crimes. To this end, on 15 January 2021, Minister of State James Browne and I announced the publication of the General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Exploitation of Children in the Commission of Offences) Bill.

While current law already provides that an adult who causes or uses a child to commit a crime can generally be found guilty as the principal offender – meaning they can be punished as though they committed the crime themselves – it does not recognise the harm done to a child by drawing them into a world of criminality.

This new law is designed to address that harm directly. Those found guilty of the new offences face imprisonment of 12 months on summary conviction and up to five years on indictment. The child concerned does not have to be successful in carrying out the offence for the law to apply.

It is also the intention that the offence of grooming a child into criminal activity will be prosecutable as a completely separate and additional offence to any crime committed by the adult using the child as their innocent agent. Details will be finalised throughout the legislative process.

The new legislation will complement the ongoing work following the publication of the ‘Greentown Report’ in December 2016, which examined the influence of criminal networks on children in Ireland. The report, which was produced at the School of Law in the University of Limerick, outlines how the influence of criminal networks increases the level of offending by a small number of children and entraps them in offending situations.

As part of the wider 'Greentown' project, targeted interventions are to be piloted to further protect children in Ireland from becoming involved in criminal networks. As well as analysing how criminal networks recruit and control often vulnerable children, the Greentown project has attempted to identify the scale of the problem in the State and has designed a bespoke form of intervention, which is being trialled on a pilot basis in two locations.

This specially designed intervention programme was developed with international expert advice, to tackle coercive control of children by criminal groups which entraps them in offending situations.

I will also shortly publish the Vivian Geiran report into the challenges and needs experienced by communities in Drogheda as a result of ongoing feuding activities by criminal gangs, which has been received from Mr Geiran and is under consideration within my Department.

The report examines a range of issues affecting the community, including the needs of young people in the area, the opportunities available to them and the root causes which lead to criminal activity taking hold.

Further to this, Minister of State Browne and I will also be bringing the new Youth Justice Strategy to Government shortly, which will deliver a holistic approach to the issue of youth justice.

Criminal Assets Bureau

Questions (667)

Bernard Durkan

Question:

667. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the success of the Criminal Assets Bureau in the fight against all forms of crime, organised and otherwise; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7158/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Criminal Assets Bureau (CAB) is a multi-agency statutory body established under the Criminal Assets Bureau Act, 1996. The Bureau’s remit is to target the assets, wherever situated, of persons which derive or are suspected to derive, directly or indirectly, from criminal conduct. Since its inception, the Bureau has been at the forefront of fighting organised crime in this jurisdiction – disrupting the activities of criminal gangs through the removal of their ill-gotten gains - and has been recognised as a world leader in asset investigations, tracing and forfeiture.

The Bureau has staff drawn from An Garda Síochána, the Office of the Revenue Commissioners (including Customs), the Department of Social Protection and the Department of Justice.

The Bureau works closely with Gardaí and all law enforcement agencies at national and international levels and continues to focus its efforts on targeting assets deriving from all types of criminal conduct. The Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2005 makes provision for the Bureau to seize assets that were generated in foreign jurisdictions. This Act enables the Bureau to cooperate fully with other international asset recovery agencies.

The Bureau serves to make Ireland a more hostile environment for the generation of proceeds of crime and sends a strong message to criminals and to local communities that profiting from crime will simply not be tolerated. In doing so, the Bureau targets lower to middle tier criminals, in addition to Organised Crime Groups.

The Bureau’s activity has increased year on year with 57 Operational Searches conducted in 2019 compared to 34 in 2018; 31 Proceeds of Crime Applications initiated during 2019, up one from 2018 and the value of assets seized in 2019 under Section 2 increased to approximately €65 million compared to €8.3 million in 2018. To acknowledge the Bureau’s increased activity, the Bureau’s Budget was increased to €9.961 million for 2021 (up from €9.090 miilion in 2020).

The activities of the Bureau are reported on each year in its Annual Report and can be found at www.cab.ie. The 2020 Annual Report is currently being drafted and will be published later in the year.

Leave to Remain

Questions (668)

Marian Harkin

Question:

668. Deputy Marian Harkin asked the Minister for Justice the status of an application for permission to remain by persons (details supplied); and the timeline for a decision on this application. [7172/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

For reasons of maintaining full confidentiality, it is not my Department's practice to comment on whether an application for asylum or subsidiary protection has been made in the State. An applicant for such protection status, or their legal representative, should contact either the International Protection Office (IPO) or the International Protection Appeals Tribunal (IPAT) directly, as appropriate.

The IPO may be contacted: by email to info@ipo.gov.ie, by telephone to the IPO Customer Service Centre at 01 6028008 or in writing to Customer Service Centre, International Protection Office, 79-83 Lower Mount Street, Dublin 2.

The IPAT may be contacted either: by email to info@protectionappeals.ie, by telephone at 01-4748400 (or Lo-Call 1890 201 458), or in writing to Corporate Services Division, The International Protection Appeals Tribunal, 6-7 Hanover Street East, Dublin D02 W320.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas mail facility which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the parliamentary questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.

Garda Operations

Questions (669)

Neasa Hourigan

Question:

669. Deputy Neasa Hourigan asked the Minister for Justice if there is a comprehensive policing plan in place in the north inner city of Dublin to address the recent spate of violent assaults; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7193/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I would like to extend my deepest sympathies to all those impacted by the shocking incidents which have taken place in Dublin in recent weeks. My Department is keeping the law in relation to sentencing for knife crimes, as well as all other policies around knife crimes, such as targeted interventions, under review.

Following a number of initial discussions on our shared concern about recent these serious crime incidents, I met with the Garda Commissioner last week to further discuss the issue.

The Commissioner confirmed that An Garda Síochána has a comprehensive policing plan in place in Dublin’s north inner city.

The Commissioner and I also discussed what more can be done to tackle knife crime.

We both agree that strong community engagement, increased community safety and youth services are a key element in preventing and reducing crime. We also discussed outreach and information programmes, run in a number of different languages, for all communities, as well as youth justice and other interventions.

Further analysis is needed to provide greater insights into the level of violent incidents in society and I will remain in ongoing contact on the issue with Commissioner Harris.

Also, as the Deputy will be aware, on 13 November I announced that my Department will pilot Local Community Safety Partnerships in three areas, including Dublin’s North Inner City. Local Community Safety Partnerships are the new structures proposed in my Department’s new Community Safety Policy to take a holistic approach to safety issues in partnership with the community.

They will operate at local authority administrative level and will be made up of local representatives, a range of local services, community representatives and residents. Local Community Safety Partnerships will take a strategic approach to their work so that issues arising can be dealt with in a coordinated manner, addressed collectively by relevant service providers in partnership with the community.

Each Local Community Safety Partnership will be actively supported by a dedicated resource within the local authority whose role is to support the Partnership, engage the residents in the community on safety issues and link them in with the work of the Partnership. Officials in my Department are working closely with Dublin City Council and the Department of An Taoiseach, as well as the recently appointed chair of the Dublin North Inner City pilot, Cormac Ó Donnchú, to put the relevant structures in place to allow the Partnership to commence in the coming weeks.

Court Accommodation

Questions (670)

Carol Nolan

Question:

670. Deputy Carol Nolan asked the Minister for Justice if a transfer of ownership of Birr Court House, Townsend Street, Townparks, Birr, County Offaly, is being proposed; if so, the person or body to which the transfer is being made; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [7195/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

Under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts, including the provision of accommodation for court sittings, is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has advised me that they are currently in the process of transferring the Birr Courthouse building to Offaly County Council for community use. Contracts were executed in late December and the transfer is expected to be completed shortly. In line with Courts Service policies, the building was transferred for no consideration.

Garda Operations

Questions (671)

Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire

Question:

671. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Minister for Justice the number of Garda public order unit vans attached to the Cork city Garda division as of 31 December 2019 and 2 February 2021, in tabular form [7219/21]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána. In addition, the allocation of Garda resources is a matter for the Commissioner, in light of identified operational demands. This includes responsibility for the allocation of Garda vehicles. As Minister, I have no role in these matters. I am assured, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that on 31 December 2019, there were 2 Garda Public Order Unit vans attached to the Cork City Garda division, and 1 Garda Public Order Unit van attached to the Cork City Garda division on 2 February 2021.

The Deputy may wish to note that there are currently 139 vehicles assigned to Cork City division, which represents an increase of almost 14% since December 2019.

I am pleased to have secured significant capital investment to be made in An Garda Síochána, including a total of €46 million specifically for the Garda fleet between 2016 and 2021. This continuing investment is intended to ensure that An Garda Síochána has a modern, effective and fit-for-purpose fleet and that Gardaí can be mobile, visible and responsive on the roads and in the community to prevent and tackle crime. The allocation of these and all other vehicles in the fleet is entirely a matter for the Commissioner and his management team.

Deportation Orders

Questions (672)

Seán Sherlock

Question:

672. Deputy Sean Sherlock asked the Minister for Justice if consideration will be given to revoking a deportation order on a person (details supplied). [7224/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that, following the consideration of the relevant case under section 3(11) of the Immigration Act 1999 (as amended), the Deportation Order referred to was formally revoked on 22 January 2021. This decision was notified to the relevant parties by letter dated 26 January 2021.

Queries in relation to the status of individual immigration cases may be made directly to my Department by e-mail using the Oireachtas mail facility at INISOireachtasMail@justice.ie which has been specifically established for this purpose. This service enables up-to-date information on such cases to be obtained without the need to seek information by way of the parliamentary questions process. The Deputy may consider using the e-mail service except in cases where the response is, in the Deputy’s view, inadequate or too long awaited.