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.
We have been gathering the proof that prevention and early intervention works here.
See also our Shifting Focus campaign section.
19th February 2010
Chief constable of Lothian and Borders Police, David Strang, calls for a radical change in way the system as a whole works to prevent crime rather than simply mop up the aftermath.
17th February 2010
A Guardian article highlights the familiar story that many young offenders are themselves victims.
9th February 2010
Aftercare for those leaving care, will save the government money across many areas including the criminal justice system.
26th January 2010
A report on the key findings from a project evaluating the effectiveness of the Incredible Years Preschool/ Early School Years Parent Training programme as an intervention for Irish children (aged 3-7 years) with emotional and behavioural difficulties.
15th January 2010
A new report from a Commons select committee has identified that the current prison building programme is unsustainable, and the cash would be better spent on rehabilitation and prevention so as to cut crime.
5th January 2010
In December 2009, the European Crime Prevention Network (EUCPN) Conference took place in Stockholm with a focus on preventing crime and victimisation among children and young people.
8th December 2009
A new cross-government strategy to promote the health and well-being of children and young people in contact with the youth justice system.
23rd November 2009
A new UK report, 'The chance of a lifetime - Preventing early conduct problems and reducing crime', identifies that early-intervention programmes for young children could significantly lower crime levels.
20th October 2009
Fergus Finlay's Opinion Piece in the Irish Examiner.
5th October 2009
On Morning Ireland this morning, Emma O'Kelly reported on a new intervention programme designed to reduce delinquency in young people.