Home > Dáil Éireann debate. Questions 151 - An Garda Síochána [33073/23].

[Oireachtas] Dáil Éireann debate. Questions 151 - An Garda Síochána [33073/23]. (05 Jul 2023)

External website: https://www.oireachtas.ie/en/debates/question/2023...

151. Deputy Paul Kehoe asked the Minister for Justice if the Garda schools programme is ongoing; the number of schools that have been engaged with over the past ten years; whether knife crime awareness and prevention is part of the programme; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [33073/23] 

James Browne, Minister of State at the Department of Justice: As the Deputy will be aware, in accordance with the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (as amended), the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including all operational policing matters. As Minister, I have no role in these matters and I cannot direct the Commissioner with regard to them. 

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the Garda Schools Programme has recently been reinvigorated to be reflective of modern Irish society. 

I am further informed that the New Garda Schools Programme material has been developed in partnership with the Department of Education and Webwise. The new programme has been extended to all school ages to cover preschool (early years), primary and post primary education. 

This is important because research shows that early engagement with young children can lead to better long term outcomes for children. This also ensures a consistent and professional approach to engagement with children and young people in early years, primary and post-primary schools nationally.

I understand the objectives of the Garda Schools Programme are to: 

  • Increase accessibility of An Garda Síochána to children, teachers and the community; 
  • Improve relationships between Gardaí and the community; 
  • Give children an understanding of the consequences of criminal behaviour; 
  • Reduce the level of offending behaviour through early engagement and intervention; 
  • Increase the wellbeing of children through crime prevention awareness and advice; 
  • Promote recruitment to An Garda Síochána including the Reserve Gardaí. 

I am advised that Knife Crime Awareness is addressed as an element in the post primary Garda Schools programme module of 'Consequences of Criminal Behaviour & Assaults'. This module builds from the public safety campaign by An Garda Síochána of ‘Use Your Brain Not Your Fists’. 

The breakdown below, provided to me by the Garda National Community Engagement Bureau, outlines the number of school visits from September to June 2021 and 2022. Figures in respect of the academic school year, September to June 2022-2023, have not been finalised as the deadline for schools return submissions is 10 July 2023. Figures in respect of previous years are not available. 

2021/2022 (Sept – June) 

  • Total 175,310 students 
  • 4,446 visits to different year groups in total 
  • 679 visits to early years institutions (188 Pre-schools and 611 schools that had Playschool, Junior Infants & Senior Infants year groups) 
  • 3,093 visits to primary school level year groups (1st to 6th Class) 
  • 674 visits to secondary schools.

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