The 2016 Annual Report of the Committee Appointed to Monitor the Effectiveness of the Diversion Programme has been published. The total number of referrals to the diversion programme in 2016 was 17,615 compared to 19,513 in 2015. Specifically related to children; 9,451 children were referred to the Diversion programme in 2016 compared to 9,807 in 2015. This means that 356 less children came to the attention of An Garda Síochána in 2016 than in 2015. There was a removal of the status ‘unsuitable for all cases’ in January 2016, in order to ensure that all children are given adequate consideration for the programme as provided for under the Children Act 2001.
The Diversion Programme promotes restorative justice and the use of restorative practices as a way of working with children and young people whose behaviour has caused harm or distress to their victims. The focus is on repairing the harm caused to a victim or caused by the criminal behaviour. Juvenile Liaison Officers used Restorative Justice in 667 referrals in 2016 compared to 891 in 2015.
Figures at a glance:
- In 2016, 7,262 (77%) of children referred were admitted, up from 74% in 2015.
- 1,250 (13%) of children were considered unsuitable for the programme in 2016 compared to 1,479 (15%) in 2015.
- The main categories of offences for which children were referred continued to be Theft and Related Offences (30.7%), Public Order Offences (22.3%), and Damage to Property and the Environment (10.4%).
- 27% of children referred were under the age of 15, with 30% being 17 years old.
- 74% of those children referred were male and 26% were female.
- The number of children receiving an Informal Caution is up 3% in 2016 compared to 2015, whereas directions for Formal Cautions and Unsuitable for Inclusion have decreased.
- Of those children referred, 72% have just one referral, whereas 5% have 6 or more referrals in 2016. 65% of those considered unsuitable had been referred 6 or more times in 2016.
- 3,043 of children referred reside in the Dublin region.
Some Committee recommendations include:
- That An Garda Síochána allocate additional resources to the Garda Youth Diversion Office.
- That monitoring of repeat offenders is continued and for Divisional resources to be concentrated for this group.
- That training is continued for the training and upskilling of Juvenile Liaison Officers in Induction, Mediation and Restorative Justice Facilitator Training.
Link to the 2016 Report here.
Link to the 2015 Report here.