For Oral Answer on : 05/07/2022
Question Number(s): 62 Question Reference(s): 35953/22
Asked by: David Stanton T.D.
To ask the Minister for Justice the progress made to date on the implementation of the National Youth Justice Strategy; and if she will make a statement on the matter.
As the Deputy will be aware, Minister Browne and I published the new Youth Justice Strategy 2021-2027 in April last year. I wish to thank the Deputy for his significant work on the Strategy during his tenure as Minister of State.
The Strategy includes consideration of the full range of issues connected to children and young people at risk of coming into contact with the criminal justice system, including early intervention and preventative work, family support and diversion from crime, through to court process and facilities, supervision of offenders, detention and reintegration and support post release.
The Strategy document, as published on my Department’s website, includes a comprehensive implementation statement, laying out the key objectives and actions of the plan, and the lead agency for each deliverable.
The Strategy commits to the publication of an annual implementation update from the Governance and Strategy Group (GSG) provided for in the implementation statement, the first of which is due to be published shortly.
However, I can share the following update of actions that are already in progress:
- Since the launch of the strategy in April 2021, we have established dedicated inter-agency oversight and co-ordination groups at national level, led by my Department.
- We have established a stakeholder advisory group, chaired by Minister Browne, to ensure that we maintain a strong working relationship with the community sector as we go about implementing the strategy.
- We have established an enhanced research partnership, known as REPPP, with the University of Limerick which is providing dedicated research and evidential support for policy development as well as supporting effective practices in front-line Youth Justice services.
- REPPP is also supporting cutting edge pilot initiatives such as the Greentown programme to engage with children involved in criminal networks, and the expansion of the Bail Supervision Scheme.
We have made important progress with an ambitious expansion programme for the network of Youth Diversion Projects, and enhancing the scope of the services which they provide.
Budget 2022 provides an additional €6.7 million in funding for Youth Justice services, which meets a key commitment of the Strategy to expand the Youth Diversion Project (YDP) network so that every child/young person who could benefit from these services is able to do so. There are currently 105 YDPs across the State, acting as a vital community based support to the statutory Garda Youth Diversion Programme.
Minister Browne announced on 22 June that over 50 YDPs will benefit from this additional funding to:
- Extend the boundaries of some YDPs to increase coverage, as provided for in the Youth Justice Strategy,
- Increase funding to engage with the harder to reach cohort of referrals,
- Provide additional early intervention supports,
- Provide family supports to the relatives of those young people engaged with the YDPs,
- Further develop the Solas initiative in Dublin.
Of this €6.7million, approximately €780,000 has also been set aside to establish a limited number of additional YDPs this year in geographical areas not currently covered by YDPs to ensure that the service is available to every child or young person in the State who would benefit from it.