AN GARDA Síochana has come in for a fair amount of criticism lately, particularly in the light of the O’Higgins report into malpractice, the treatment of whistleblowers, and disturbing revelations of its insulant and stagnant culture.
It is important that such criticism be voiced in order to provoke reform, but it should not cloud the good work also being done daily by members of the force, particularly in the area of combating juvenile crime.
A report published today on the effectiveness of the Garda juvenile diversion programme reveals that the number of young people being referred to it has fallen to its lowest level since it began in 2003.
The fall in numbers shows the programme to have been highly successful in diverting children and young people away from crime by offering them guidance and support rather than putting them through the criminal courts.
Above all, this exercise in restorative justice teaches young offenders to take responsibility for their unlawful actions. That must be better than having them end up behind bars.
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