Firstly, I would like to say that I am of course aware of the serious incident involving a scrambler which occurred recently, and I wish to extend my heartfelt sympathies to the victim. As the Deputy will be appreciate, I cannot comment on any specific incident in detail, but I can assure him that tackling such serious and sometimes tragic incidents involving scramblers is a top priority for my Department and the whole of Government.
As the Deputy will be aware, I established a subgroup of the Anti-Social Behaviour Forum earlier this year to examine measures which can be taken with regard to the misuse of vehicles such as scramblers and quad bikes in communities.
The Anti-Social Behaviour Forum delivered a community based proposal to tackling the misuse of scramblers and other vehicles. This scheme is based on the model developed by the Moyross Youth Diversion Project (YDP) and, again, is a means of intervention and diversion of young people from this type of anti-social activity.
My Department opened applications to all YDPs and interested groups, such as motocross clubs, for funding for these initiatives. Almost €200,000 in funding has been granted to eight projects; some of which are joint ventures between more than one YDP (a total of 10 YDPs applied for funding, 9 in Dublin, along with additional support provided for Moyross in Limerick).
The criteria for participation in a YDP essentially relate to the young person being at risk of involvement in crime or anti-social behaviour. Each project has a referral committee and the application of the criteria is a matter for that Committee in each specific case.
The Deputy may also be aware that €6.7million has been provided for youth justice services in Budget 2022. This represents an increase of one third in support for youth justice services. It provides the resources to kick-start delivery of key objectives in the Youth Justice Strategy and, in particular, the programme to expand and deepen the range of supports made available through local YDP services.
The main elements are:
- Establishment of a limited number of new youth projects and boundary extensions of existing projects so as to ensure that the youth diversion services are available throughout the State by end-2022 or shortly thereafter.
- Enhancement of the youth diversion service, in accordance with identified local needs, to include:
- Early intervention and family support work
- Outreach with harder-to-engage young people
- Support for schools to retain challenging children
- Other specific initiatives e.g. in relation to anti-social use of scramblers and knife crime issues.
- Dedicated research and expert support, including best practice support for the nationwide project network, facilitated by the Research Evidence into Policy Programmes and Practice (REPPP) project team in the University of Limerick.
The Minister for Transport has recently published the Road Traffic and Roads Bill 2021, which includes provisions to strengthen the law in relation to the dangerous and antisocial off-road use of scramblers, quads and other similar vehicles.