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Youth Policy And Legislation: National Youth Justice Strategy And Children Act

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The Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018 states that its main focus is to ‘“continue the downward trends in high volume crime and detention; becoming more adept in understanding and intervening in more serious crime offending patterns; and improving the effectiveness and efficiency of these interventions in addressing the behaviour and needs of these young people”. (Irish Youth Justice Service Report, 2013).

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In order for these interventions to be effective, it is important that risk and protective factors are addressed, as they are the root of the problem. Since the first National Youth Justice Strategy commenced in 2008, the number of children sentenced to detention by the Courts on criminal conviction has consistently dropped. Mission Statement: To create a safer society by working in partnership to reduce youth offending through appropriate interventions and linkages to services. This Action Plan focuses on changing the offending behaviour of young people involved in the youth justice system, with the following national outcomes for children in Ireland:

  • Better value for money by using consistent, appropriate, targeted, evidence-based approaches and effective working practices.
  • Service providers will focus on the needs of the young person using the service and will be accountable to them. Agencies, young people, families and communities will have a greater understandingof how the youth justice system works. Effective governance in place, ensuring excellence in delivery of services within allocated budgets and resources.

Children act 2001

The Garda Youth Diversion Programmes were first introduced in Dublin in 1963 and were formally known as Juvenile Liaison Schemes (Shannon, G. 2005). The Children At 2001, as amended by the Criminal Justice Act 2006, states that any child, under the age of 18, who has committed an offence and accepts responsibility for his or her criminal behaviour shall be considered for admission, to a diversion programme, as stated under section 18 of the Act. The Garda Diversion Programme aims to prevent and divert young people from any further offences. Any child who engages in criminal behaviour and is brought to the attention of the An Garda Síochana, is referred to the Juvenile Liaison Officer and may be permitted to receive formal or informal caution. An administered caution, if informal, usually given in the case of a first time offence, may take place in the home of the child, with parents or guardians present.

An administionered caution, if formal, may take place in the Garda station, with the child and parents or guardians present, to discuss the behaviour of the child, and accompanied by supervision meaning that the child will be monitored or mentored in the community by a JLO for a period of 12 months [6; s. 27]. The level of supervision required is determined by the juvenile liaison officer and takes into consideration, the the seriousness of the child’s criminal behaviour and the likelihood, in the opinion of the juvenile liaison officer, of the child’s committing further offences. The Juvenile liaison officer also takes into consideration the level of support given to the child by their parents/guardian. As this is where risk factors can stem from, taking into consideration, the child;s family life, is an important for prevention and diversion.

15 Jun 2020

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