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Question

156. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if she will report on current youth diversion projects; their successes and outcomes; her plans for future expansion of these projects; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [19365/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): My Department continues to invest heavily in Garda Youth Diversion Projects. My Department through the work of the Irish Youth Justice Service has committed to strengthening the evidence to support policies and services and to further develop targeted interventions to divert young people from the criminal justice system. The set of actions by which we intend to do so, is detailed in Tackling Youth Crime, a Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018; which also forms part of ‘Brighter Options, Better Futures’ the National Framework for Children and Young People 2014-2020’. The focus is to continue the downward trends in high volume crime and reduce the necessity for detention through proven and innovative approaches to youth diversion.
My Department has secured €2.8 million under the Dormant Accounts Action Plan for Garda Youth Diversion Projects which are funded by the Community Programme Unit (CPU) of the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS). I was pleased to announce on 15 May last, the details of the first tranche of that funding, totalling €1.37 million, which has been allocated for expenditure. I have given my approval for 10 new GYDPs to open in areas which have not previously been served by a GYDP. This will increase the total number of GYDPs in operation to 110. In addition, the funding will be used to support the recruitment of additional staff to 16 existing Garda Youth Diversion Projects, in order to respond to higher levels of youth crime or to expand the geographical remit of the project. Funding will also be provided for the expansion of an initiative in the Mid West area to engage with “hard to reach” young people involved in criminal activity. The locations for the new GYDPs and additional staff in existing projects is available on both the Department of Justice and Equality and IYJS' websites.
I am also pleased to have launched last week the first Divisional model of Garda Youth Diversion Project provision. Kerry Empowering Youth – KEY, a Kerry Garda Youth Justice Divisional Model is a new model of Garda Youth Diversion project delivery developed in partnership by Kerry Diocesan Youth Service (KDYS) and Kerry Garda Division, with support from the IYJS of my Department. The new service delivery model has been very successful and has enabled KDYS in partnership with Kerry Divisional Gardaí to reach over 100 additional young people so far who would not have otherwise received support from trained Youth Justice Workers. The IYJS is currently rolling out an expansion of the Divisional Youth Diversion model in partnership with Gardaí and Community Based Organisations in Cork City.
From the start of this year, GYDPs and some Young Persons Probation (YPP) are being co-funded under the Programme for Employment, Inclusion and Learning (PEIL) of the European Social Fund 2014-2020. It is planned that a total of €84 million will be expended over the course of the Programme.
While there is no specific research linking the drop in youth crime to diversion projects, all stakeholders in the area, both statutory and non-statutory are extremely positive about their impact and success. The Garda Youth Diversion Programme has made significant inroads in targeting supports to young people to effectively divert them towards more positive life choices. I will shortly be publishing the 2013 Annual Report of the Committee to Monitor the Effectiveness of the Garda Diversion Programme which will show that the trend of falling numbers of young people coming to the attention of An Garda Síochána and being referred to the Garda Diversion Programme is continuing.