77. Deputy Donnchadh Ó Laoghaire asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the cost of funding Garda youth diversion projects at present; and the projected costs for 2017. [12067/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Deputy will be aware that 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, through the network of Juvenile Liaison Officers (JLOs), is to deal with young people who offend by way of administering a formal or informal caution, thus diverting the young offender away from the Courts and minimising the likelihood of further offending. The Programme embraces, whenever possible, the principles of restorative justice and, at all times, pays the highest regard to the needs of victims. The Programme has proven to be highly successful in diverting children and young people away from crime by offering guidance and support to them and their families. This is evident from the continuing fall in the number of children and young people referred to the Programme in recent years.
The work of the JLOs is supported by my Department through the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) which funds and oversees over 100 Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) across the country. In this regard the Programme for Government includes a commitment to extend the network of GYDPs for young people promoting restorative justice approaches.
My Department continues to invest heavily in GYDPs through the work of the IYJS. €11.4 million has been allocated to administer the GYDPs in 2016. The funding to support the GYDPs is part supported by the Government and the European Social Fund (ESF) as part of the ESF Programme for Employability, Inclusion and Learning 2014-2020. In addition, my Department has been allocated funding of almost €2.8m this year from the Dormant Accounts Fund to support a number of initiatives including the establishment of 10 new GYDPs and to fund additional youth justice workers in existing projects. Three of these additional GYDPs commenced operations last year with an additional seven due to come into full operation very shortly. Six of the GYDPs currently funded by my Department also incorporate Local Drugs Task Force (LDTF) projects and additional funding of over €294,000 is being made available to support them in 2016.
With regard to estimating the projected costs for 2017 the Deputy might wish to know that my Department is working with the 110 GYDPs in preparing their estimated funding requirements as part of a structured annual business planning process. Funding of the GYDPs year on year is subject to approval by the IYJS in partnership with An Garda Síochána’s Garda Youth Diversion Office. The management function of each GYDP is carried out by a Community Based Organisation (CBO). The local Garda Superintendent (District Officer) has an oversight role in the operation and direction of the Garda youth diversion service and each GYDP has a Project Committee which is chaired by the local Superintendent or a nominated Garda Inspector. Each Project Committee is responsible for monitoring, advising, approving and evaluating the GYDPs strategy . As part of the annual business planning process each GYDP is required to prepare and submit an Annual Plan outlining its proposed strategy and the projected associated cost to implement the Plan. Each Plan is specific to the catchment area of the GYDP and the Garda representatives support the Project Committees in the development and implementation of the Annual Plan including the provision of up to date crime statistical data for the area. The development of each Plan is informed by local statistical youth crime evidence provided by An Garda Síochána, the needs of local Gardaí and in partnership with the local CBO(s). The availability of detailed youth crime statistics contribute to the future planning, and resource allocation, on a local and national basis and assist my Department to target youth crime prevention initiatives in the community.