Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 13 - Youth services [24770/23].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Written answer 13 - Youth services [24770/23]. (25 May 2023)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/debate/dail/2...

  1. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice his plans to extend youth diversion projects to under-25s; when such an extension could be made; the estimated number of young people who could be diverted from the judicial system as a result; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24770/23]

What plans are in place to extend youth diversion programmes to the under-25s? When could such an extension be made? What is the estimated number of young people who could be diverted from the judicial system as a result? May I have a statement on the matter?


Deputy James Brown: I thank the Deputy for asking this important question.


Youth diversion has been in place for young people under 18 for many years. At present, a young person under 18 who commits an offence can be given access to the Garda diversion programme, including supervision by a Garda juvenile liaison officer. A diversion system can provide a second chance and enable people to avoid prosecution and a criminal record.


Research tells us that young adults, not unlike adolescents, can be particularly vulnerable to peer pressure, difficult personal or socio-economic factors, including substance misuse, and the impact of childhood trauma. In addition, scientific evidence tells us that the human brain and maturity continue to develop beyond adolescence and into the mid-20s.


A conviction can result in a chain reaction of negative outcomes for a young person, limiting employment opportunities, preventing them from getting visas to travel abroad and excluding them socially, all of which can feed into reoffending cycles, which is not to anyone's benefit.


The diversion programme has proved to be very successful in diverting young people under 18 away from crime by offering guidance and support to them and their families. It is important that we consider the supports and interventions needed for young people as they move into adulthood because personal circumstances do not just change overnight when someone turns 18.


As the Deputy will be aware, in November 2022 I published a discussion paper on diverting young adults aged 18 to 24 from entry into the wider criminal justice system, in line with the commitment in the programme for Government and the youth justice strategy. The proposals contained in the discussion paper suggest extending a system similar to the Garda youth diversion scheme to young adults aged 18 to 24 who offend. That consultation closed in January, and my Department is considering the results. The Department will hold an open policy forum in the coming months to provide a further opportunity for consultation and engagement with stakeholders, which will include expert speakers, discussion groups and feedback.


[For the full debate, click here to the Oireachtas website]

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