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Home > Seanad Eireann debate. Youth justice policy: statements.

[Oireachtas] Seanad Eireann debate. Youth justice policy: statements. (28 Jan 2014)

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Minister for Children and Youth Affairs (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am delighted to have an opportunity to address the Seanad this afternoon to discuss the important area of activity in my Department focused on youth justice policy. My Department is responsible for a range of supports to families and children which, although not specific to juvenile offenders, seek to address many of the social and economic contributory factors which may lead to offending behaviour. I am driving reforms to bring about a seamless new approach to policy development for early years right through to youth and young adulthood. I am also trying to integrate service provision for children so that young people have the best possible outcomes. To design and develop effective policies and services that make a difference, we need to better understand our children, their lives, their experiences, their expectations. Fortunately, the range of high-quality research we have means we are very data-rich when it comes to our children. 

  The Garda youth diversion projects and youth programmes are giving us good results. Youth crime has fallen consistently over the past three years. Sixteen-year-old males were transferred from the adult prison system to the Oberstown campus from 1 May 2012, meaning 16 year olds are no longer detained in adult prison facilities. I will be introducing legislation to ensure we have a unified approach on the campus at Oberstown. We have appointed a new campus manager with whom I met yesterday to discuss the preparatory work being done there.
  For the first time in the past year, we have a clinical service for young people in special care and detention, the assessment, consultation and therapy service, ACTS. It is very important this is now in place and we have a professional responsive assessment service available for young people who get into trouble for offending behaviour and end up in detention, and that this service can liaise with other professionals, advise the staff on the campus on the particular needs of the young people who arrive there and advise the courts as they develop the services on precisely what Oberstown can offer in terms of assessment. We do not want repeat assessments on these young people who very often have had a huge amount of contact with professionals before they ever arrive in detention. The development of this new professional assessment service and treatment service for these young people at national level is to be greatly welcomed. It means it will be possible to follow up on the young people who have been in Oberstown......
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