The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD, has published the 2012 Annual Report on the Garda Diversion Programme.

The Minister noted the reduction in the number of children coming to the attention of An Garda Síochána in 2012 compared to the previous year. This reduction continues the yearly downward trend since 2007. The figures show that 563 less children came to the notice of An Garda Síochána in 2012, representing a 4.4% decrease on 2011. The Minister also welcomed the expansion of the restorative justice process with a 15% increase in practice on 2011 figures.

The Minister noted that the majority of children who were admitted to the Programme were given an informal caution, i.e. a caution without supervision by a Garda Juvenile Liaison Officer (6,265). A caution without supervision is generally applied for a first offence or a repeat minor offence.

2,840 children were given a formal caution, with a period of JLO (Juvenile Liaison Officer) supervision. 1,850 children were deemed unsuitable for diversion and these files were returned to the local Superintendent for possible prosecution.

The top 3 youth offence categories for 2012 were Public Order and Social Code Offences (29%), Theft and Related Offences (25%) and Damage to Property and the Environment (10%). These offence categories percentages are almost identical with the previous year.

The Minister noted that 80% of young people referred to the Programme were admitted. This reflects ongoing efforts of the youth justice system to find alternative means to Court to deal with offending and to prevent future offending.

The Minister acknowledged the key role of the nationwide network of Garda Youth Diversion Projects in supporting the Programme and committed to continue to protect, as far as possible, the resources available for these projects. He indicated also that the work of the Garda Analysis Service now being undertaken to provide the local and national picture of youth crime will be key to enabling more effective planning and service delivery to deal with youth crime.

Finally, the Minister indicated that the Government remains firmly committed to continuing its work under the Programme for Government to impact on youth crime and on anti-social behaviour.

30 December 2013

ENDS

Note for Editors:

· The Diversion Programme Monitoring Committee comprises of 4 members. Its structure and terms of reference for the Committee are set out in Section 44 of the Children Act 2001, as amended. The chairperson and one member are Gardaí and are appointed following consultation with the Garda Commissioner. The two civilian members are appointed directly by the Minister for Justice and Equality.

· The Garda Diversion Programme operates in accordance with Part 4 of the Children Act 2001, as amended, and under the general superintendence and control of the Garda Commissioner. The aim of the Diversion Programme is to deal with children who offend, by way of administering a formal or informal caution, thus diverting the offender away from the courts and minimising the likelihood of further offending. The Diversion Programme embraces, whenever possible, the principles of restorative justice and, at all times, it pays the highest regard to the needs of the victims. The Programme has proven to be successful in diverting young people away from crime by offering guidance and support to young offenders and their families.

· Garda Youth Diversion Projects are funded by Community Programmes Unit of the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) under the Department of Justice and Equality. The projects are community-based, multi-agency crime prevention / crime reduction initiatives which, primarily, seek to divert young people who have been involved in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour by providing suitable activities to facilitate personal development, and promote civic responsibility and improve long-term employability prospects. By doing so, the projects also contribute to improving the quality of life within communities and to enhancing Garda/community relations. The projects may also work with young people who are significantly at risk of becoming involved in anti-social and/or criminal behaviour. Essentially the projects provide a resource to An Garda Síochána and to Juvenile Liaison Officers in particular, in the implementation of the Diversion Programme. There are currently 100 of these projects operating throughout the country. Most projects are located within areas of high social deprivation.