Just 10% of accused juvenile offenders detained

WHILE more than 3,200 young people appeared before the Children’s Court in 2009 accused of committing in excess of 8,400 crimes, just under 300 received a custodial sentence.

Reacting to the figures, published for the first time today as part of an Irish Examiner special investigation, a member of Dublin’s joint policing committee has suggested communities throughout Ireland are living in fear of increasingly violent juvenile crime.

It has also emerged that the joint policing committee and the city’s north west area committee recently wrote to the Department of Justice requesting a review of what it perceives to be too lenient sentences for young offenders.

The department refused the request, but according to Dublin city councillor John Redmond, who sits on the policing committee, the issue is “high on the agenda” and needs answers.

Mr Redmond said the concerns had been raised on a cross-party basis and had been brought to the attention of the committee by concerned residents and communities living in fear of juvenile crime.

He said it was broadly felt that the courts are not handing down tough enough sentences to young offenders, sending the message that they are untouchable.

The legislation which deals with juvenile crime, the Children Act 2001, is based on the philosophy that children in conflict with the law should only be detained as a last resort. Under the act there are a range of community-based sanctions, 10 in total, in place to deal with young offenders.

According to the chair of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, Ursula Kilkelly, there is a dearth of information and research about which of those sanctions are working, how they are being used and what the outcomes are.


Lifestyle

Frank Keogh did not want to get a hearing aid. He was afraid that it would make him look old. But now, just several weeks after having one fitted, he says that he can’t do without it.Hearing tests: A word in your ear

I see that a website describes the call of Canarian cory’s shearwaters as ‘waca waca’. It’s a mad, hysterical call, uttered when the parent birds arrive to feed their nestlings.Cory’s shearwaters show long-distance qualities

Is it too much to hope that an important public health matter, such as Lyme disease, will be an issue in the general election? There’s been a worrying reluctance by the authorities to face up to the extent of the disease here.Facing up to Lyme disease

A paper published in Current Biology examines the extinction of a colourful little bird which, until recently, thrived in the eastern US. With the appalling environmental catastrophe enveloping Australia, home to 56 of the world’s 370 parrot species, this account of the Carolina parakeet’s demise is timely.Trying to save the parrot is not all talk

More From The Irish Examiner