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Question

631. Deputy Aodhán Ó Ríordáin asked the Minister for Justice if she will request the Garda authorities to examine working with officials in the Department of Education in order to try and address antisocial behaviour as the country reopens after the pandemic; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [25589/21]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): The Deputy will appreciate that the Garda Commissioner is responsible under the law for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including operational decisions on the deployment of resources to tackle crime. 
I am very conscious of how anti-social behaviour affects the quality of life for local communities. Preventing children getting involved in criminality, as well as diverting children away from it when they have already become involved, is a key priority for both my Department and for the Government as whole. My Department's Justice Plan 2021 contains a number of commitments with regard to tackling anti-social behaviour.  
In line with a commitment in the Programme for Government, I have established a special expert forum on antisocial behaviour, which is considering the effectiveness of existing legislation and looking at proposing new ways forward, including new powers for An Garda Síochána and additional interventions to support parenting of offenders. A subgroup of this Forum has already examined the issue of misuse of scramblers and quadbikes and this work has informed the development of a new scheme aimed at tackling this issue in local areas.
On 15 April last, I launched the new Youth Justice Strategy 2021-2027 with Minister McEntee. Youth crime, including anti-social behaviour, can have a major impact on our communities and poses significant challenges for An Garda Síochána, as well as other Justice agencies. The factors which underlie youth crime have significant implications across a range of policy and service provisions, including Child and Family Services, Health, Education and local authority functions.   
This new Strategy will respond collaboratively to the situation of vulnerable children and young
people, with a strong focus on diverting them away from offending, and building supports to provide prevention and early intervention, family support and diversion from crime, through to court processes and facilities, supervision of offenders, detention and reintegration and support post release.
The Strategy will seek to increase the range and quality of supports available to support positive personal development and behavioural change to lead to positive outcomes for the young people involved and their families.
This will be achieved through strengthening and enhancing the supports provided through the existing network of 105 Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) around the country. The geographical coverage of the service will be expanded so that, within two years, it is available to every child in the State who could benefit from it. In particular, GYDP services will be enhanced to provide:
- early intervention and engagement with more challenging children and young people whose needs may be too complex for the existing GYDP services;
- family support;
- engagement with younger children (8-11 years); and
- support to schools in relation to the retention of young people with challenging behaviour in the education system.
While Garda Youth Diversion Projects primarily receive referrals from An Garda Síochána, they may receive referrals from other sources including schools, parents or self-referrals.