In February, IPRT was pleased to report the
findings, published in the Irish Examiner,
of a Garda initiative which had resulted in a significant reduction in youth
Announced at the Irish Youth Justice Service conference, the scheme resulted in a 64% reduction in the number of offences committed by a sample group of 16 young people. The scheme, which uses one-to-one Garda supervision, proved hugely positive in its first nine months. Garda, equipped with specialised training for the role, accompanied the young person to court, dealt with any family issues which arose, and assumed the responsibility of being the young person’s advocate with the various criminal justice agencies.
In another welcome move, it has been announced that the scheme is to receive a further roll-out, extending to all of Dublin; the initiative is already underway in Cork, Limerick, Donegal and Galway. In Dublin, the programme is also to be piloted with adult offenders and sex offenders.
A considered opinion piece in the Irish Examiner outlines the benefit of removing the hostility towards authority figures which is felt in many of those areas from which so many offenders are routinely drawn. The ability of a garda to establish himself as someone on the side of the young person and actively engaged in their lives, goes a long way towards demonstrating to young people that mistrust and defiance of authority figures are not the only means of relating to the Gardaí. The promotion of trusted and respected garda in these communities could provide an alternative role model for many of their young residents.