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Question

294. Deputy John Curran asked the Minister for Justice and Equality his views on the National Conference of the Joint Agency Response to Crime's recent review of three anti-offending projects (details supplied) that seek to deal with offenders; his plans to roll out these projects nationally; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [40052/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): The joint agency response to crime, JARC, is a multi-agency initiative which aims to:


    Develop and strengthen a multi-agency approach to the management of prolific offenders;
    Prioritise such offenders for targeted interventions and supports to address their behaviour; and
    Reduce crime and victimisation in local communities.
JARC provides an intensive and highly collaborative approach to the supervision and rehabilitation of prolific offenders in particular areas of Dublin and beyond by An Garda Síochána, the Probation Service and the Irish Prison Service, with strong and direct support from my Department.
Under each JARC programme, the three aforementioned agencies work closely together to identify the offenders causing most harm in a particular area and to agree structured interventions to help these individuals move away from re-offending. The JARC programmes thus offer tailored supports and practical help to participants with addiction, educational, training or other needs, and are implemented with the assistance and expertise of other State agencies as well as community-based organisations.
JARC participants are closely monitored by the relevant agencies at all times. Any negative behaviour, and particular any further offending, is quickly detected and dealt with through effective inter-agency co-operation.
JARC was first piloted under three Dublin-based programmes for adult offenders, as follows:
    STRIVE: This programme is aimed at persons with a history of causing high levels of harm or disruption to a designated area of north Dublin.
    Change Works: This programme is aimed at persons across the Dublin Metropolitan Region who have a history of violent offending.
    ACER 3: This programme is aimed at persons in the Garda districts of Kevin Street and Tallaght who have a repeated and prolific history of burglary.
Independent evaluations have now been completed on the three pilot JARC programmes, along with a comparative ‘desktop’ review, by an expert internal group, of those three evaluations. The findings from these evaluations and from the desktop review were presented at the first JARC National Conference on 25 September. While it is difficult to draw definitive conclusions given the relatively small numbers of programme participants and short measurement timeframes, all the indications are that the pilot programmes have helped to reduce both the frequency and severity of reoffending and, furthermore, have helped some participants to move completely away from crime. For example, the evaluations indicate that during the period under review:
    37% of Change Works participants did not reoffend;
    Almost 30% of STRIVE participants did not reoffend;
    15% of ACER 3 participants did not reoffend, with a reduction in offending noted among a further 45% of participants.
Further information, including detailed statistical information, on the pilot projects can be found in the report of the desktop review, which is available on my Department's website and that of An Garda Síochána.
In 2017, the ACER 3 programme was extended to a further three regional locations: Dundalk, Waterford and Limerick. In addition, a pilot Youth J-ARC initiative, aimed at 16-21 year olds, was launched in July 2017 in locations in Cork and west Dublin.
My Department and the three key agencies are working together on a standardised JARC evaluation framework to bring greater consistency across the programmes in such matters as selection and de-selection criteria, allocation of resources, measurement of harm, costs and benefits, and data gathering. This, along with increased participant numbers and programme durations, will enable more robust analysis and evaluation of the JARC programmes individually, comparatively and collectively. This, in turn, will help to inform operational decisions on the continuation and further expansion of JARC in the future as resources permit and subject to evidence of its sustained effectiveness.