Alcohol a factor in 50% of youth crime

ALCOHOL is a critical factor in about half of all recorded juvenile crime, according to a report.

An Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) report of the country’s Garda Youth Diversion Projects said the “overwhelming picture” was one of easy access to alcohol.

The youth diversion projects are crime prevention initiatives that seek to challenge antisocial and criminal behaviour by young people.

The report said 85% of the projects found alcohol abuse was the main problem they dealt with.

It said there were “spikes” in alcohol-related crime at weekends, during summer months and at calendar events, such as Halloween.

Worryingly the report also found there was a “significant pattern” of young people getting alcohol from parents or older siblings.

In a “minority of cases” young people also targeted “lax” off-licences.

Projects also identified home delivery services run by off licences as a problem.

While identifying alcohol as a major contributory factor in most assaults, the report also identified assaults not involving drink such as “staged fights and neighbourhood conflicts”.

It said girls featured “significantly and disproportionately” in these fights and that “girls involved in this type of offending are typically engaged in a long campaign of bullying [often school based] followed by a contrived fight and possible further bullying”.

The report also highlighted the problem of arranged fights being “documented and disseminated” by mobile phones and computers.

Most projects also reported major drug use and said cannabis often went hand in hand with alcohol. More than a third of projects said they knew of a small number of young people involved in “more sophisticated drugs supply networks”, often related to family links.

Half of the projects said many young people were indifferent to changing their behaviour. A similar number of projects report indifference among parents.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Barry Andrews said most of the report’s recommendations would be in place by 2010.

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