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Crime Prevention

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 29 June 2021

Tuesday, 29 June 2021

Ceisteanna (418)

John Lahart

Ceist:

418. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice the steps being taken to address the escalating violence, including stabbings and antisocial behaviour, in Dublin city centre; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [34543/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (as amended) for the management and administration of Garda business, including all operational policing matters. As Minister, I play no role in these independent functions.

The Commissioner is also responsible for the distribution and stationing of the Garda Síochána throughout the State. I am advised, however, that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in light of identified operational needs.

I am advised that Dublin city centre is composed of two Garda Divisions, the Dublin Metropolitan Region (DMR) North Central (NC) and DMR South Central (SC). As of the end of May 2021, the latest date for when figures are available, DMR NC has 662 members of all ranks assigned, whilst DMR SC has a strength of 715 members of all ranks. These are increases of 12% and 14% respectively since the end of 2015.

For the Deputy's information, the Garda Commissioner established Operation Soteria to ensure a reduction of assaults in public, reduce fear of assault within communities, prioritise assault investigations, and focus on problem areas and assault hotspots. The Operation includes targeting knife crimes in areas where it is shown to be relevant and necessary.

The operation is based upon five principles for implementation: commitment to protecting people and communities; awareness and education as a crime prevention technique; policing operational efficiency; location management by working in partnership; and offender management.

The Deputy will be also be aware that my Department has published the general scheme of the Policing, Security and Community Safety Bill. The Bill will provide for a key principle from the report of the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland that preventing crime and harm and making our communities safer does not rest with An Garda Síochána and my Department alone.

It will be best achieved as a 'whole of government' responsibility, with Departments and agencies responsible for health and social services, education authorities and local authorities, the Gardaí and the wider community working together.

The new Bill will achieve this by establishing innovative Local Community Safety Partnerships to develop local safety plans tailored to the priorities and needs identified by communities themselves. The Local Community Safety Partnerships will replace and build upon the existing joint policing committees and will provide a forum for State agencies and local community representatives to work together to act on community concerns.

Each Partnership will devise and oversee a Local Community Safety Plan, which will be informed by the community itself. Membership of the Partnerships will include, but not be limited to: residents; community representatives (including youth, new communities and voluntary sector); business and education representatives; relevant public services including the HSE, Tusla, Gardaí and the local authority; and local councillors. Each Partnership will have an independent chair.

The new Local Community Safety Partnerships will run initially on a pilot basis in the Dublin North Inner City, Waterford and Longford for a period of two years, after which they will inform a nationwide rollout of the model to every local authority area.

The new Youth Justice Strategy 2021 – 2027 was also published on 15 April last. The Strategy includes the full range of issues connected to children and young people at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system, including early intervention and preventative work, family support and diversion from crime, through to court process and facilities, supervision of offenders, detention and reintegration, and support post release.

The Strategy strengthens and expands the role of the Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) and promotes appropriate linkages and alignment with other community-based initiatives, including those supported by the Probation Service. Bringing the full range of relevant interventions together in a coherent and holistic response to youth crime will support the objective of diverting young people from crime and anti-social behaviour.

There are currently 105 GYDPs nationally and the intention is to further develop this service so that it is available to every child in the State who could benefit from it, through an ongoing expansion of existing services and the foundation of new projects where necessary.

The Strategy also provides that, where necessary, GYDPs can provide a broader range of services, including family support and engagement with children aged 8-12 years, as well as developing enhanced approaches to engaging with harder to reach children and young people who may have more entrenched patterns of offending.

The Youth Justice Strategy provides a framework to:

- prevent offending behaviour occurring;

- divert children and young adults who commit a crime away from further offending and involvement with the criminal justice system; and

- enhance criminal justice processes, detention and post-detention measures, to provide consistent support to encourage desistance from crime and promote positive personal development for young offenders.

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