Skip Page Header

Home > Dail Eireann debate. Juvenile crime: motion [Private members].

[Oireachtas] Dail Eireann debate. Juvenile crime: motion [Private members]. (30 Jan 2019)

External website:

Deputy Jim O'Callaghan I move:

That Dáil Éireann:

notes that:

- a review of the Garda Youth Diversion Office (GYDO) recently carried out by An Garda Síochána has identified serious failings within the Garda Youth Diversion Programme (GYDP);

- the review examined 158,521 youth referrals, relating to 57,386 individual children, which were created on the Police Using Leading Systems Effectively (PULSE) system during the period 25th July, 2010 to 28th July, 2017;

- it was found that 7,894 of these referrals had not been appropriately progressed to a conclusion by An Garda Síochána;

- the review shows that the bulk of crimes not progressed were in the areas of public order, theft, traffic and criminal damage;

- 55 serious offences were identified as being not progressed, including rape, sexual assault and child neglect;

- many of the young offenders who were not progressed through the GYDP subsequently became involved in serious crime;

- the Garda Commissioner has described the failure to prosecute these youth offenders as a ‘humiliating professional failure’ for the force;

- this is the latest in a series of issues regarding Garda statistics that has damaged public confidence in An Garda Síochána;

- the Policing Authority said ‘So when there are no consequences for children who are unsuitable for the programme, it is inherently unfair on those who accepted their responsibilities. More seriously than that, however, is that without follow up, opportunities to help those children are missed. Children are failed and victims of crime are failed.’; and;

- these findings are shocking, serious lessons have to be learnt and immediate actions need to be taken by the Minister for Justice and Equality, An Garda Síochána, the Department of Justice and Equality and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs to prevent any further lack of follow-up on juvenile cases;

acknowledges that:

- successive reports have recommended that much more cooperation is needed between An Garda Síochána and Tusla;

- youth diversion programmes are proven to be very successful in reducing reoffending;

- the State has a responsibility to try to divert children from a path of crime should they commit offences at a young age;

- increased illegal drug use is causing greater challenges;

- 8,000 reported crimes by children should not occur without a targeted and strategic response from the State;

- 57 of the child offenders referred to have since died, indicating that many of those participating in this programme experienced chaotic lives; and

- most offences identified as not being acted upon are now time-barred on grounds of delay, and many others would be difficult to progress as they have been contaminated by the poor process to date; and

calls for:

- a review into the cause of cases which were not properly progressed, to examine if disciplinary procedures should take place;

- victims of the serious crimes, which were not appropriately progressed to a conclusion, to be informed;

- an anonymised report into the cause of cases and in particular repeated cases which were not properly progressed in order to identify specific failures within the GYPD;

- a stay to be placed on the decision of the Department of Justice and Equality to centralise the Juvenile Diversion Programme pending the findings of these reports;

- the Minister for Justice and Equality, in conjunction with the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, to publish an action plan for the reorganisation of youth justice sections within both departments to ensure accountability lies with only one line Minister;

- a quarterly update for the Houses of the Oireachtas on the progress of all issues before the GYDO for a period of no less than three years;

- a significant strengthening of section 28 of the Children Act 2001, to prescribe a minimum standard of supervision for all children under the supervision of a Juvenile Liaison Officer;

- increased and sustained investment in the Juvenile Diversion Programme;

- the Government to promote an effective GYDP to ensure the provision of training for Youth Justice Workers on specific issues such as health and mental health; and

- greater levels of prevention and protection for the public and the children caught up in criminal activity.


I welcome the opportunity to move this motion and open the debate on juvenile crime. I will share time with my colleagues, Deputies Cassells, Chambers and Cahill.


It is important to begin the debate by recognising and emphasising that we are in the unfortunate position in this country that a lot of crime is committed by people who are referred to as juveniles. They are people between the ages of 12 and 17 or 18. It is also the case that a significant volume of anti-social behaviour is committed by juveniles. That poses a particular problem for the State as to how we respond to it because it is clear is that if we do not get a child away from the path of criminality between the ages of 12 and 17, there is a likelihood that he or she will continue to commit crime as an adult. We then have a much bigger problem than we have when the younger person is committing crimes between the ages of 12 and 17.


The range of crimes committed by juveniles is not simply at the lower end of the spectrum. It is not simply the case that we are dealing with anti-social behaviour, breaches of public order or other summary offences. Unfortunately, it is also the case that many serious crimes are being committed by juveniles. I saw in The Irish Times today, and I am sure it happens frequently, that there are cases of young men, in particular, who have been convicted of serious sexual assaults or of rape. We need to recognise that the group of young people who are growing up now are exposed to aspects to which none of us was every exposed when we were growing up. I refer in particular to the prevalence of pornography on the Internet, the degradation of women and the submissive nature of women as presented on the Internet. That must have a significant impact on the developing sexuality, particularly of young men.


This country has an increasing drugs problem. I know it particularly in Dublin but it is not just in Dublin. It is throughout the country, and not just in what would be referred to as disadvantaged areas. There is a growing drugs problem throughout this city and the country. At this stage we do not know the extent to which use of drugs, which are getting stronger as time goes on, will impact on the mental health of young people. We need to be clear with young people to advise them of the dangers of taking drugs, particularly drugs which are perceived as being benign such as cannabis. Cannabis is so strong that it can have a very negative impact upon the mental health of young children. That is not just me stating it; it is something that has been recognised in reports produced....


[Link to the full debate]

Repository Staff Only: item control page