166. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice if she will report on the use of antisocial behaviour orders; and the purpose of same. [58048/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): As the Deputy will appreciate, the issuing of an antisocial behaviour order is made at the direction of the District Court upon application of An Garda Síochána. As Minister of State, I play no role in these independent functions.
It should be understood that in setting up the provisions to tackle anti-social behaviour on foot of the enactment of the Criminal Justice Act 2006, provision was made for a number of preliminary interventions - warnings, good behaviour contracts and referrals to the Juvenile Diversion Programme - which were intended to address the problem behaviour. The rationale was that if these measures succeeded, there would be no need to apply to the courts for an order. It was only if the measures failed to lead to a behaviour adjustment by the person in question that an application for a court order would be made.
I can assure the Deputy that An Garda Síochána remains committed to tackling public disorder and anti-social behaviour by working with communities to reduce this type of behaviour and enhance community safety. The Garda approach includes a strong focus on quality of life issues and collaboration with local authorities, businesses and other stakeholders to help address the causes of anti-social behaviour.
It is widely acknowledged that the use of behaviour warnings and civil orders are only suitable in certain circumstances, and indeed it is only one crime prevention option open to An Garda Síochána in tackling this type of crime. As the Deputy will be aware, An Garda Síochána already employs a wide range of operational measures aimed at tackling public-order offences and anti-social behaviour.
These measures are underpinned by a comprehensive legal framework. Of course, addressing local community concerns in relation to public order and anti-social behaviour is a key focus in An Garda Síochána's National Community Policing Model and a range of strong legislative provisions are available to An Garda Síochána in this regard, including the following:
- Criminal Damage Act 1991
- Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994
- Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 2003 and
- Intoxicating Liquor Acts 2003 and 2008.
As the Deputy will also be aware, in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government, I last year 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, if necessary, and additional interventions to support parenting of offenders. Question No. 167 answered with Question No. 158.