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Progress in the development of proposals to establish the country’s first Community Court on a pilot basis has been welcomed by Cork East Fine Gael TD, David Stanton. Deputy Stanton is Chair of the Oireachtas Justice Committee which recommended the establishment of a pilot Community Court in its report to the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD in July 2014.

“As Chair of the Oireachtas Justice Committee, I welcome further progress in the development of proposals for a pilot community court in Dublin City Centre”, said David Stanton TD. “I understand that a meeting was held in May 2015 between key Justice sector stakeholders and as work will continue over the summer month, the Minister for Justice expects to be in a position to bring forward proposals in early Autumn.

“A Community Courts System has worked well in many other jurisdictions such as cities in the US, Canada and the UK as they take a problem solving approach to dealing with low-level crime and engage with the public and seek solutions appropriate to the community in which they are based. For this reason, I welcome the fact that a thorough consultation process with key stakeholders, led by the Department of Justice will be completed before any pilot is launched.

“I am pleased that the proposals of the Oireachtas Justice Committee, which resulted from submissions invited from interested parties in late 2013, hearings in January 2014 and the production of the final report to the Minister in July 2014, have fed into the consultation process to establish a pilot Community Court. The Committee recommended that a pilot be launched initially in a Dublin City Centre district, and if successful, be extended over time to other cities and locations across the country.

“The aim of Community Courts is to deal swiftly with minor crimes such as disorderly conduct, anti-social behaviour, petty theft and minor criminal damage. This results very often in a court appearance the delay following the alleged offence being committed. The vast majority of offenders receive community service orders which are carried out in the community, but some offenders can end up in prison.

“The success of the Community Court system is that it reduces numbers incarcerated, reduces crime in the area in which the court is based and also reduces recidivism all of which benefit not just the offenders but also the wider community. I look forward to seeing the Minister’s proposals in the coming months”, concluded Deputy Stanton