Rise in young kids on crime diversion scheme

There has been an increase in children aged 12 to 14 being referred to a Garda juvenile crime programme.

The rise goes against a reduction in juvenile crimes by children aged 15 to 17.

The figures are contained in ‘Tackling Youth Crime – Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018’, which was published this week.

The Garda Diversion Programme shows an overall fall in the number of referrals of juveniles involved in crime — from 19,854 in 2014 to 19,513 in 2015.

This involved 9,991 individual children in 2014 and 9,807 children in 2015 (some children involved in multiple referrals).

Around a quarter of all individuals were not admitted into the programme. They can be excluded because of the nature of the offence or because they do not take responsibility for their offending behaviour or agree to the programme.

There was an increase in referrals among children aged, 12, 13, and 14, but a drop in cases involving those aged 15, 16, and 17.

A breakdown shows:

  • 425 referrals involving 12-year-olds in 2015, compared to 386 in 2014;
  • 814 cases involving 13-year-olds in 2015, compared to 766 in 2014;
  • 1332 cases involving 12-year-olds in 2015, compared to 1295 in 2014.

But from age 15 above, the cases drop. There is no information in the report on this difference, if it is part of a trend or a once-off. The type of crimes, and their percentage of the total, are pretty consistent over time.

Public order/assaults account for around 27% of crimes in both years, and larceny/robbery the same.

Road traffic offences make up around a quarter, while drug offences account for about 5% and sexual offences less than 1%.

Outcomes from the Children’s Court show that the vast majority of cases do not end up in detention, making up around 5% of the total.

The number of juveniles involved in Garda Youth Diversion Projects dropped from 4,966 in 2014 to 4,393 in 2015.

In a statement, Minister of State at the Department of Justice, David Stanton said: “The falling numbers of young people being referred to the statutory Garda Diversion Programme in recent years points to the positive impacts of the programme, supported by community-based youth crime interventions, in addressing the bulk of youth offending behaviour.”


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