Garda Commissioner Fachtna Murphy has given the green light for the scheme, which sees each young offender case managed by a dedicated garda, to be spread to the rest of Dublin. It has also started, or is in the process of starting, in Cork, Limerick, Donegal and Galway. It will begin in the remaining Garda divisions during the year.
In Dublin north central, the scheme has been expanded to adult offenders and sex offenders.
An appointed garda acts as a case manager for an individual and is involved for dealing with all charges involving that person, no matter where they occur, and deals with all his or her interactions with the courts.
In juvenile cases, the garda takes on the job on interacting with the youth’s family and any agencies – probation, education, training – that could help the child and remove him or her from a path of crime.
“With juveniles, the number one outcome is to reduce the impact on the community,” said Chief Superintendent Pat Leahy of Store Street Garda Station.
“The second outcome with juveniles, the track we follow, is to engineer them out of the criminal justice system. We provide every intervention available to do that.”
He said the idea came about in 2006 in response to long-running concerns regarding how cases were dealt with in the Children’s Court.
“There was wall-to-wall children, the same children day in, day out, largely. It was also wall-to-wall with guards every day, with each guard dealing with their individual case, but nobody taking responsibility for the package or the overall impact the child was having on the community,” he said.
A pilot was set up in 2006 to case-manage 16 prolific offenders who had amassed 219 charges in 9 months.