795. Deputy Sorca Clarke asked the Minister for Justice the estimated cost of establishing 15 new Garda youth diversion projects; and the estimated full year cost of running these projects. [16521/21]
Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy James Browne): The Deputy will be aware that the Garda Youth Diversion Programme is supported by a network of 105 Garda Youth Diversion Projects (GYDPs) supporting up to 4,000 young people and their families. The projects are community-based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives which seek to divert young people who have become involved in crime or anti-social behaviour and to support wider preventative work within the community and with families at risk.
I understand that considerable progress has been made in the last number of years to extend the Garda Youth Diversion Project network to ensure that the service is available throughout the State. This work is ongoing and, to date, has been achieved by extending the catchment areas of existing projects and by allocating additional staff.
Currently there are a very small number of areas where this approach would not be suitable and these are instead being considered for the establishment of new projects. I am informed that the number of areas in the State in which the evidence warrants the establishment of a new project, rather than the strengthening or extension of a catchment area, is less than 15.
Catchment areas for projects are determined in consultation with local community groups, members of An Garda Síochána and other stakeholders on a case-by-case basis. As the GYDPs have evolved organically since their inception, catchment areas can vary depending on the project’s background and local needs.
It may also be noted that, in recent years, the GYDP model has been developed and extended, with a renewed emphasis on family support and early intervention/preventative work, as well as on working with harder-to-engage young people, including those not suitable for the Garda Diversion Programme. Where any new projects are being established, the minimum core of the project will now include 2 youth justice workers, a family support worker, an early intervention support worker and an outreach worker to engage with harder-to-reach young people.
The estimated cost in a full year for a new project with all the additional elements under this draft revised model will depend on local circumstances. For comparison, funding of existing projects is some €125,000 on average.
The Minister for Justice will shortly publish the new Youth Justice Strategy 2021-2027 which will see a considerable strengthening of the role GYDPs and our other community-based youth justice interventions.