Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which juveniles have become involved in or associated with criminal gangs; his plans to address the issue; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4656/19]
138. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the extent to which juveniles have become part of the drug distribution network of criminal gangs; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4657/19]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality (Deputy David Stanton): I propose to take Questions Nos. 137 and 138 together.
I am happy to inform the House that my Department has funded research in the form of The Greentown Report, undertaken by the REPPP Project, (Research Evidence into Policy, Programmes and Practice), at the School of Law in the University of Limerick (UL).
This research identifies crime networks as a separate and plausible risk factor underlying criminal offending by certain children. It outlines how the influence of criminal networks increases the level of offending by a small number of children and entraps them in offending situations, including drug distribution.
The REPPP project team implemented a bespoke design process to produce a model for an Irish evidence-informed intervention programme. This new “Greentown Programme” has been designed with the input of leading international expertise on crime and criminal networks, together with Irish scientific, policy and practice expertise in child protection and welfare, drugs and community development.
I understand that proposals for a Greentown Programme intervention model are expected to be finalised early in 2019. I am also advised that it is intended to commence a trial of the Greentown Programme approach, on a pilot basis, in one locality during 2019.
In addition to this An Garda Síochána continue to confront drug-related crime utilising intelligence-led operations and multi-disciplinary approaches to target organised crime groups and individuals involved in crime.
I can assure the Deputy that tackling organised crime activity and those involved in it is an ongoing priority for the Government and An Garda Síochána and that the necessary resources will continue to be made available to address this issue.