Sinn Féin spokesperson on Justice, Martin Kenny TD, has said he is not surprised that a Policing Authority report into the Juvenile Diversion Projects has found that it was ineffective to the point of uselessness.
Teachta Kenny said:
“Over the past years, I have raised cases in the Dáil where serious crime was committed by young people but instead of conviction and sentencing, they were referred to the Juvenile Diversion Projects. Now, it transpires that 3,500 of these people were unsuitable for such projects.
“Reports that 768 gardaí were disciplined regarding their work with the JDPs is some indication of how dysfunctional the projects are.
“In my own constituency I have seen the consequences which serve neither the young person committing the crime nor victims. The young offender should be in JDPs to be rehabilitated and discouraged from committing further offences.
“In some cases, this seems to amount to a local garda having one conversation with the young offender who as a result avoids a day in court or any penalty. Meanwhile, victims are left feeling abandoned and unheard especially in rural communities where they are likely to know the offender involved.
“Most of the incidents related to public order offences, but it is shocking to read that rape, assault and aggravated burglary were among crimes left unpunished because the perpetrator was referred to the Juvenile Diversion Project and no further action was taken, not even the appointment of a Juvenile Liaison Officer.
“In the Minister for Justice’s new plan there is a commitment to complete the evaluation of the Youth Diversion Projects by the end of this year. I cannot see what any further evaluation will achieve when the Policing Authority has already pointed to these glaring inadequacies.
“Now, what we need is root and branch reform of these projects and the funding and resourcing of a system which will serve to genuinely divert young people from crime and assure victims that crimes against them are being taken seriously.”