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.

Targeted Youth Support: early interventions assessment 18th September 2009 PDF documents

A report from the EPPI-Centre describes the findings and methods of a systematic rapid evidence assessment (REA) of research relevant to interventions of interest to Targeted Youth Support. Read more

Investing in young would save £486 billion over 20 years, says new UK research. 16th September 2009

A new report, 'Backing the Future' has been launched by children’s charity Action for Children and nef (the new economics foundation). Read more

Perspectives on child detention 15th September 2009

Director's Blog: Young boys being held without meaningful activity in a cramped prison environment could not happen in Sweden and Germany where young offenders are only ever held in constructive, activity-centred institutions. Read more

OECD Report (2009) 'Doing Better for Children' 1st September 2009

The OECD (2009) report 'Doing Better for Children' emphasises the significance of early intervention and prevention strategies for children. Read more

Spun Out (2008) 'Young People can help build a new Ireland'. 17th August 2009

This is an extract from an article in which the founder of youth organisation 'Spun Out' Ruairi McKiernan makes the argument that Irish society is failing young people, leaving them 'at risk' to criminality. Read more

Our justice system is failing children in need of secure care 3rd July 2009

Director's Blog: Young people coming before the High Court seeking secure and emergency care – the most vulnerable children in the State – are being denied access to that protection. This is a human rights issue of the gravest kind, writes Liam Herrick. Read more

COE: “Children and Juvenile Justice: Proposals for Improvements” 22nd June 2009

IPRT today welcomed the publication of an issue paper: “Children and Juvenile Justice: Proposals for Improvements” by Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe’s Commissioner for Human Rights. Read more

Barnardos (2009) Report 'Written Out Written Off' 13th May 2009

A new research report from Barnardos entitled 'Written Out Written Off' highlights that a lack of education inhibits the potential of children suffering from disadvantage. Read more

Early Intervention: Good Parents, Great Kids, Better Citizens 16th September 2008

In the UK, senior Labour and Conservative politicians have united to call for more support for early intervention schemes in the community in this new report. Read more

Barnardos: Early intervention key to curbing youth crime 6th March 2008

In this article, leading charity Barnardos calls for preventative strategies designed to deal with youth crime. Read more

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