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Prevention and Early Intervention

Crime cannot be viewed as a social problem in isolation from deeper social and economic issues. Understanding and responding to offending behaviour is a complex issue. There is no one ‘cause’ and no single solution; consequently one-dimensional approaches are unlikely to produce results. Currently, the Irish criminal justice system is spending increasing and wasteful amounts of scarce resources with poor results in reducing crime, when modest investments in under-resourced communities would have greater positive effects in reducing offending, as well as producing wider social benefits.

To this end, IPRT is campaigning for a shift in justice resources to prevention and early intervention, in other words: "Shifting Focus: from Criminal Justice to Social Justice."

The case for this shift is strong: as the exhaustive work of bodies like the Washington State Institute for Public Policy shows, there are endless benefits to be gained from taking more constructive approaches to both adult and youth offending. A focus on the underlying difficulties – mental health, addiction, educational disadvantage, poverty – is demonstrably more likely to be effective in addressing the dreadful human cost of crime.

Moreover, against the backdrop of enormous, increasing and endless expenditure on prisons and the criminal justice system as a whole, the case for shifting even a proportion of these resources to a social justice model is undeniable – especially when coupled with the ineffectiveness of the current approach. As research has shown, when specific programmes reduce offending, as well as lessening the social harm of crime, they also save money for the State.

Shifting Focus_coverWe have been gathering the proof that prevention and early intervention works here.

See also our Shifting Focus campaign section.

Diversion of youth offenders in Hull 22nd December 2010

In Hull and the surrounding areas youth offenders are avoiding what some would claim to be direct punishment, and instead are being offered support or referred to youth clubs and other organisations, in an effort to address youth re-offending. Read more

Enhancing child services, long term financial implications 16th December 2010

In these economically challenging times it is exceptionally difficult to make commitments to spare any specific services from budget cuts. It takes political courage and an ability to see long term potential savings rather than simply immediate financial implications. Read more

The Youth Justice System in England and Wales: Reducing Offending by Young People 10th December 2010 PDF documents

The National Audit Office in England and Wales has released a report detailing the recent improvements to the youth justice system which have contributed to reductions in recorded youth crime. However, offenders receiving more serious sentences remain as likely to reoffend. Read more

Youth Violence and Effective Interventions 4th November 2010

A review titled 'Youth Violence in Scotland: Literature Review', commissioned by the Scottish Government, has just been published. It aimed to identify and collate available qualitative and quantitative research data and information about youth violence in Scotland and determine key findings in relation to effective youth interventions to reduce such… Read more

Early school leaving and substance use 29th October 2010

A new report from NACD (National Advisory Committee on Drugs) 'Risk and Protection Factors for Substance Use Among Young People' is a comparative study of substance use between early school-leavers and those who stay in school. Read more

Irish Examiner: Invest a little in deprived children and save a fortune on super-prison 19th October 2010

Fergus Finlay, Chief Executive of Barnardos, details the social and economic costs of failing to invest in children in his column in the 'Irish Examiner'. Read more

Guardian: Care leavers will be deeply injured by short-term cuts 29th September 2010

Dawn Howley, writing in the Guardian, criticises the mentality which slashes social care budgets at the expense of the future of 'looked-after' children. Read more

Community Mediation Works: The State of 'Anti-Social Behaviour' in Working Class Communities 23rd September 2010 PDF documents

Community Mediation Works have released a new report reflecting upon the experiences of people in communities in Ireland that have been affected by 'anti-social behaviour'. Read more

From Justice to Welfare: The Case for Investment in Prevention and Early Intervention 23rd September 2010

A report by Candy Murphy, commissioned by IPRT, Barnardos and IAYPIC, outlining the evidence in favour of shifting resources from the criminal justice system to a system which ensures social justice. Read more

Shifting Focus: From Criminal Justice to Social Justice 23rd September 2010

On Thursday 23rd September 2010, IPRT, Barnardos and IAYPIC jointly hosted a 1-day conference to consider how Ireland might begin to refocus our approach to crime and social policy. Read more

Learn more