Deputy Richard Bruton asked the Minister for Justice if she has received reports on the level of crime and antisocial behaviour in Dublin city centre; if her Department monitors the level of safety that persons feel circulating in the city centre, particularly at night; and if any initiatives are planned to address this concern. [50440/21]
684. Deputy Ivana Bacik asked the Minister for Justice if her attention has been drawn to recent incidences of violent antisocial behaviour in the north inner-city of Dublin; the steps her Department is taking to address escalating crime in the area; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [50452/21]
Minister for Justice (Deputy Heather Humphreys): I propose to take Questions Nos. 681 and 684 together.
I can assure the Deputy that the Government is determined to tackle anti-social behaviour and I am very conscious of the effect it can have on the quality of life for local communities including in Dublin’s inner city. We want people to feel safe and be safe in Dublin, whether they live or work in Dublin or want to visit and enjoy our capital city.
I understand that the Minister for Justice recently met with the Garda authorities, Dublin business owners and local representatives to discuss recent anti-social behaviour the city centre. An Garda Síochána continues to implement high visibility policing plans to address public disorder related issues and anti-social behaviour, with particular overt and targeted policing of public places at times when public order incidents and anti-social behaviour typically increase, such as at bank holidays weekends.
I can inform the Deputy that the Garda Commissioner has also established Operation Soteria to ensure a reduction of assaults in public, reduce fear of violence within communities, prioritise assault investigations and focus on problem areas and assault hotspots.
The operation is based upon five principles for implementation:
1. commitment to protecting people and communities;
2. awareness and education as a crime prevention technique;
3. policing operational efficiency;
4. location management by working in partnership; and
6. offender management.
In line with the commitment in the Programme for Government, I established an Expert Forum on Anti-Social Behaviour. This forum is considering the effectiveness of existing legislation and looking at proposals for new ways forward, including new powers for An Garda Síochána and additional interventions to support parenting of offenders.
Two current subgroups of the forum have been set up to examine particular issues on knife crime, which met on 26 September, and another on the misuse of scramblers and quadbikes. Similar sub-groups can also be established for other relevant issues as they arise.
The Deputy will be aware of the Local Community Safety Partnership pilot which is underway in the north inner city. Local Community Safety Partnerships are designed to take a holistic approach to safety issues in partnership with the community. The Partnerships will allow local communities to identify issues of particular concern within their area and work with the relevant State services to develop a local Community Safety Plan to specifically tackle these issues. The Local Community Safety Partnerships will be rolled out nationwide to all local authority areas after the pilot phase of two years.
The Deputy will also be aware that a new Youth Justice Strategy for 2021 – 2027 was published on 15 April last. In line with international best practice, a key principle of the new Youth Justice Strategy is providing as many opportunities as possible to enable young people to change direction in their lives and adopt more positive behaviours.
The Strategy includes the full range of issues connected to children and young people at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system, including early intervention and preventative work, family support and diversion from crime, through to court process and facilities, supervision of offenders, detention and reintegration and support post release.
The Strategy strengthens and expands the role of the Youth Diversion Projects and promotes appropriate linkages and alignment with other community-based initiatives. Bringing the full range of relevant interventions together in a coherent and holistic response to youth crime will support the objective of diverting young people from crime and anti-social behaviour.