783. Deputy Neale Richmond asked the Minister for Justice the amount of funding that was given for knife prevention schemes by her Department in each of the years 2015 to 2020; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [16405/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): The Deputy will of course appreciate that knife crime is a serious issue across many jurisdictions. The mission of An Garda Síochána is ‘Keeping People Safe’ and whilst this is a simple message, it is a very deep one, and An Garda Síochána keep policing practices and strategies under review with a view to providing the best possible responses.
The Deputy will be aware that under my recently published Justice Plan 2021, my Department will review existing Garda powers in relation to dangerous weapons, including knives, to ensure they have the necessary legal tools to protect our communities.
We will also focus on analysing existing data, as well as developing new sources of data, and looking at international best practice in this area.
As the Deputy will be aware, my Department provides funding for a wide range of initiatives and projects within the community safety and youth justice areas, including the Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs), which have a funding commitment for 2021 of €17.6m for 105 GYDPs across the State, which is an increase of over €733,000 from 2020.
I will shortly publish a new Youth Justice Strategy which will address the full range of factors in youth offending and will put strengthened community-based supports in place to support and divert young people at risk of crime and anti-social behaviour.
Whilst my Department has no dedicated knife prevention schemes, the GYDPs focus on a range of problematic and anti-social behaviours, including knife crime.
It is important to note that such incidents are rare in our society. The Government, and I as Minister, are committed to ensuring that the problems that we have seen in neighbouring jurisdictions do not repeat themselves here.
I have met with the Commissioner, and we both agree that further work is needed to understand the issue, and we will continue to engage with colleagues in public health to gather more data and establish better data sources.
I would like to assure the public that our streets and communities are safe, and appeal to those who may feel that they need to carry a knife for a sense of protection that it is not necessary to do so.