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.
29th September 2009
An article in the Guardian describes how cuts in the present justice system could reduce youth re-offending.
21st September 2009
The Incredible Years programme has seen a "substantial improvement" in behaviour in 80%percent of children whose parents had attended the community parenting programme six months on.
18th September 2009
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.
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).
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.
1st September 2009
The OECD (2009) report 'Doing Better for Children' emphasises the significance of early intervention and prevention strategies for children.
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.
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.
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.
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.