304. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Justice the current position regarding steps she is taking to deal with the dangerous misuse of scramblers, quad bikes and electric scooters; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [38676/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): The Government is strongly committed to tackling the issue of misuse of scramblers and similar vehicles.
As the Deputy may be aware, Minister Ryan, who has responsibility for road traffic legislation, is bringing forward legislative proposals to increase Garda powers in this area, including in relation to the seizure of vehicles.
In parallel with this work, I secured Cabinet approval in April for a community based approach to diversion from anti-social misuse of scramblers. This followed on from the work of a sub-group of the Forum on Anti-Social Behaviour, which I chair, to consider community-based approaches to address the misuse of scramblers and quad bikes as part of the overall package of Government measures to tackle the issue.
This initiative is centred around Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) who are being invited to lead on the development of proposals for community-based interventions to work with young people involved in anti-social use of these vehicles and related crime and anti-social behaviour. GYDPs will be required to consult with other local interests, including An Garda Síochána, and to create a local consortium which will include the local authority. It is envisaged that the local authority partner will in general be responsible for provision of tracks and related facilities.
In May, my Department invited the GYDPs to present proposals for the scheme to offer positive alternatives to young people engaged in anti-social use of scramblers, including specific contact with GYDPs in areas that are most affected by this issue.
The community-based initiative is open to receive proposals from local areas, coordinated through GYDPs, and it is open to any GYDP to submit a proposal. The intention is that proposals submitted before the end of July may be eligible for support in the current year, subject to assessment of the details of the proposal. I can assure the Deputy that I will keep the operation of the scheme under review, with a view to providing appropriate support for local areas where there are significant problems with the misuse of scramblers, quad bikes and similar vehicles.
I should stress that this initiative is focussed on young people at risk of crime and anti-social behaviour and specifically anti-social use of these vehicles. It is not intended to duplicate the responsibilities of mainstream youth services or to fund motocross or similar sports as such.
It is hoped that this combined approach of increased Garda powers to tackle the misuse of scramblers, while at the same time creating alternative options for those who wish to use such vehicles safely and legally, will have a significant impact in tackling the problem.
In the meantime, members of the public who are concerned about any individual misuse of scramblers should contact An Garda Síochána.