Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Written answers 51 & 61 - Crime prevention [Ballymun] [52122/22 & 52123/22].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Written answers 51 & 61 - Crime prevention [Ballymun] [52122/22 & 52123/22]. (20 Oct 2022)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2022...

51. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Justice if she will provide the probation services the resources they need to expand the strive programme in the Ballymun sub-district as recommended in the "Ballymun a Brighter Future Report"; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52123/22]

61. Deputy Paul McAuliffe asked the Minister for Justice when she intends to respond to the recommendations in the "Ballymun a Brighter Future Report" commissioned by Dublin City Council and presented to the Taoiseach at the Dublin North West area Joint Policing Committee in July 2022; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [52122/22]

Helen McEntee Minister for Justice: I propose to take Questions Nos. 51 and 61 together.

As previously advised, I very much welcome the publication of the 'Ballymun - a Brighter Future' report which was commissioned by Dublin City Council following a request by the Deputy when he was the Lord Mayor of Dublin.

The key recommendations of this report recognise that working with communities to address underlying causes of criminality require a whole-of-systems approach.

As the Deputy will already be aware, the Department of Health leads on Government policy in the area of drugs, and this policy is guided by the national drugs and alcohol strategy, "Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery - a health-led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025". This strategy represents a whole-of-Government response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland. The implementation of the strategy is led by my colleague, the Minister for Health, however, the strategy contains actions for all stakeholders, including my Department and An Garda Síochána.

Of the recommendations in Ballymun - a Brighter Future which relate to areas under the remit of my Department, I can assure the Deputy that this Government is committed to ensuring that An Garda Síochána has the resources it needs, with an unprecedented allocation of €2.14 billion provided in Budget 2023, an increase of €78 million on last year.

While the Commissioner is operationally responsible for the allocation of resources, I am assured that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review in the context of policing priorities and crime trends, to ensure optimal use.

In this regard I am pleased to inform the Deputy, that Garda numbers in the Ballymun Garda District have increased by 55 since to 31/12/2017 to an overall Garda strength of 266 on the 30/9/2022. In addition, the strength of the Dublin Metropolitan Region North Drugs Unit, has also increased in the same period from 19 to a strength of 29.

Garda Operation Tara has a strong focus on tackling street-level dealing throughout rural and urban Ireland. The focus of this Operation is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks at all levels. Recent successes of Operation Tara include the seizure of €348,000 seized in Dublin and Louth, where five people were arrested on 17 October 2022 and have been charged to appear before the Courts.

Furthermore, an additional allocation of €6.7m was provided in Budget 2022 and another €2.5m in 2023 to ensure the delivery of key objectives in the Youth Justice Strategy , in particular the expansion and deepening of the services offered to young people by the Youth Diversion Projects which are fully funded by my Department. These projects provide an invaluable support to complement the work of An Garda Síochána in addressing youth crime and protect local communities, including those YDPs already operating in Ballymun.

I can also inform the Deputy that under the Community Safety Innovation Fund, ‘Base Bus Ballymun’ – A Community Mobile Access Project, has received €120,000 in funding. This project aims to redefine places of anti-social behaviour into more positive social environments by providing early intervention and preventative action.

Further, as recognised by the Commission on the Future of Policing in Ireland, improving community safety requires a multi-sectoral approach, strong inter-agency collaboration and engagement from the community.

Local Community Safety Partnerships will play a key part in this by creating a tailor-made community safety plan with input from the local community and public services. Innovative pilot schemes rolled out in Waterford, North Dublin Inner City and Longford engage with the community to prioritise issues raised by its members. These areas were chosen for a number of factors including population density, crime trends and deprivation. These pilot schemes are to run for 24 months with a view to then rolling them out nationwide.

As the Deputy will be aware the Joint Agency Response to Crime (‘JARC’) is an example of a strategic multi-agency initiative involving an intensive, highly collaborative approach to the supervision and rehabilitation of prolific offenders in particular areas of Dublin and beyond.

The three lead agencies (An Garda Síochána, the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service) with the active support of my Department and in partnership with other State bodies and community-based organisations, work together in a close and highly structured manner to steer these recidivist offenders away from criminality.

The STRIVE project is a specific JARC initiative established in 2015 and targets very high-risk offenders, who are identified as causing the most harm in the community, using a coordinated approach with local stakeholders. The programme currently has capacity for 24 clients at any one time, which is an increase of three clients as has been agreed by the JARC governance structures during Q3 2022. This small expansion is manageable given the current resource commitments for the initiative.

The Operational team in STRIVE includes representatives from the Probation Service, An Garda Síochána, the Irish Prison Service and Ballymun Job Centre.

In line with the Programme for Government commitment to extend the pilot schemes of the Joint Agency Response to Crime to more areas to target prolific repeat and vulnerable offenders aged 16 -21, Justice Plan 2021 contains a commitment to identify areas in which to expand the JARC project.

Key steps in this process include the recent establishment of a new oversight and governance structure for multi-agency offender management initiatives including SORAM, JARC, Domestic Violence & Complex High Risk Prisoners and Life Sentence Prisoners.

The Deputy will wish to note that while these new structures bed down, work is also ongoing on a formal independent evaluation of a number of the JARC initiatives. The STRIVE programme is one of the programmes that is being evaluated.

Any decisions to expand JARC will be made in the context of the outcome of this evaluation process and will form part of the ongoing agenda for the new oversight mechanism.

Item Type
Dail Debates
Publication Type
Drug Type
All substances
Intervention Type
Harm reduction, Crime prevention
20 October 2022

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