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Question

99. Deputy Patrick O'Donovan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to extend the youth justice service to Gorey, County Wexford; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [4154/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) has responsibility for leading and driving reform in the area of youth justice. It is staffed by officials from my own Department and from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs and located in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
The remit of IYJS is to improve the delivery of youth justice services and reduce youth offending. This challenge is met by focusing on diversion and rehabilitation involving greater use of community-based interventions and the promotion of initiatives to deal with young people who offend. The key stakeholders supporting IYJS in its work include An Garda Síochána, Probation Service, Courts Service; Tusla, HSE, the Children Detention Schools, management and staff of community based organisations delivering Garda Youth Diversion Projects and Young Person Probation Community Projects.
The youth justice system should be considered in its entirety, from the Garda Diversion Programme through to the Children Courts and the Children Detention Schools. It is important to note that there it is not a simple question of choice between the Diversion Programme, community sanctions and detention. The principles of the Children Act 2001 require the various authorities to apply, incrementally, a series of "filters" or tests to each case where a child comes into conflict with the law.
The first main filter is the Garda Diversion Programme, involving at different stages and depending on the seriousness of the offence, the informal caution (without supervision) and the formal (supervised) caution, including possible involvement with a Garda Youth Diversion Project. The second main filter is provided by the non-custodial sanctions available to the Courts, including dismissal under the Probation Act and unsupervised sanctions (fines, disqualification, peace bond, curfew etc.). The next stage involves the Probation supervised sanctions (community service and other community sanctions). Finally, as a last resort, detention may be used.
Gorey already has access to a ‘youth justice service’, in that a child offender, who accepts responsibility for his/her actions, will be considered for admission to the Diversion Programme, which operates nationwide. The Wexford Garda Division has 3 Juvenile Liaison Officer posts to support the delivery of the Diversion Programme across the county. Furthermore, following the amalgamation of the Enniscorthy and Gorey Garda Districts in late 2013, the Slaney Project, a Garda Youth Diversion Project originally based in Enniscorthy, extended its reach to include Gorey.
The Deputy will be aware that on 19 December 2014, I was able to announce that funding will be provided under the Dormant Accounts Disbursement Scheme via my Department to expand Irish Youth Justice Service Community Programmes. This new funding will support efforts by my Department and An Garda Síochána to reduce youth crime. There is €2.8 million available to the Irish Youth Justice Service Community Programmes to support a number of proposals, including the establishment of new Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) at additional locations around the country, additional youth justice workers for GYDPs in areas with high levels of youth crime and the role-out of mentoring supports for GYDPs participants and to assist JLOs operating in areas without access to a GYDP.
The locations for new projects and for additional youth justice workers have been selected on the basis of various factors including increases in the youth population and levels of youth crime and will be announced shortly.