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Le Chéile Evaluation: 'Reducing Youth Crime in Ireland'

30th March 2017

Young people who have fallen into crime reduce re-offending by 28% on average over the period of mentoring, a major evaluation report into the Le Chéile programme ‘Reducing Youth Crime in Ireland' has shown.

The report is based on a detailed evaluation of the Le Chéile volunteer mentoring programme and its activities over the period 2013-2015. The report has also shown also that for every euro spent on the programme, €4.35 is returned in social and economic benefits. Benefits include avoiding detention, better health and engagement in education.

Of the 28% reduction in re-offending during the period of being mentored, 49% of this can be directly attributed to mentoring. It found that mentoring has significant positive impacts for young people over a range of areas, with the biggest gains made in self-confidence, hopefulness, communications, engagement in activities and, crucially, offending behaviour.

Le Chéile Mentoring is a one-to-one relationship-based support service in which volunteers from local communities provide a positive role model to a young person by acting as an advisor and a friendly support. It also now delivers parent mentoring to offer parents support and help in managing their child’s offending behaviour. In 2015 it mentored 152 young people aged 12 to 21 as well as 49 parent mentees, with volunteers giving 3,678 hours of their personal time to the young people and their parents.

One of the key recommendations in the report was that, given the high social return from mentoring, Le Chéile should continue to be resourced and expanded to regions in Ireland where there is unmet or latent demand.

Benefits include:

  • Reductions in offending behaviour (an average of 28%, with attribution of nearly half of this to mentoring);
  • Reductions in alcohol use (12%) and drug use (16%);
  • Improved self-confidence (25%), hopefulness (25%), and happiness (23%);
  • Greater involvement in activities outside the home (28%);
  • Greater involvement or re-engagement in education, work and training (25%);
  • Improved communication skills (24%);
  • Moving away from negative peers (9% improvement in relationship with peers), and
  • Improved relationships with parents (11%), other family (8%), & persons in authority (23%).

Le Chéile is funded by the Irish Youth Justice Service through the Probation Service, as part of Ireland’s European Structural and Investment Funds Programme 2014-2020 - co-funded by the Irish Government and the European Union.

Founded in 2005 in Coolock, Le Chéile, which partners with the Probation Services to reduce youth offending behaviour in the community, is the first mentoring programme for young offenders in the country and today operates in Dublin, Cork, Limerick, Clare, South Tipperary, Midlands, Waterford, Meath, with the objective now to expand it to other locations.

Read the report here.