536. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the status of the youth justice strategy; the terms of reference and proposed timeframe for same; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [19755/19]


Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): As the Deputy will be aware, I have convened an expert Steering Group to help guide the development of a new Youth Justice Strategy, including a review of the provisions of the Children Act. The Steering Group commenced its work in February and will have a series of meetings during this year and into next year. The Group is tasked with advising and guiding the development of the new Strategy. This will include consideration of the full range of issues connected to children and young people at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system, from early intervention and preventative work, including family support, diversion from crime, through to court processes and facilities, supervision of offenders, detention and reintegration and support post release.
The new Strategy will be informed by an assessment of what has been achieved under the 2008 Youth Justice Strategy and the subsequent Youth Justice Action Plan 2014 - 2018, of what remains to be addressed and what new and contemporary challenges have emerged in the meantime. It will also be informed by a wide-ranging consultation with stakeholders over the course of this year, commencing with an Open Policy Forum which my Department is hosting on 8 May.
It is intended that the new Youth Justice Strategy will sit under the next iteration of “Better Outcomes Brighter Futures” , the National Policy Framework for Children and Young People 2014-2020, which is coordinated by the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
For me, the key priority is prevention and early intervention and I am on record in this House and elsewhere of stressing the importance of bringing all relevant agencies and programmes together, including schools, to ensure that we provide a holistic, 'wrap around' response to the needs of children and young people at risk in the specific family and community context.
I expect that a draft of the new Strategy will be ready for publication towards the end of this year for a further round of public consultations, and that the final Strategy will be published in the early part of 2020.