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Fewer child offenders referred to Diversion Programme

The number of offenders aged between 10 and 18 who were not deemed suitable for the programme grew in 2010.

Image: Paul Faith/PA Archive/Press Association Images

FEWER CHILD offenders were referred to the Garda Diversion Programme last year, according to the latest annual report on the programme’s effectiveness.

The project aims to prevent young offenders aged between ten and 18 from entering the full criminal justice system and from committing further offences. Young people are not referred if they are persistent offenders or if they do not accept responsibility for their behaviour.

Just 0.1 per cent of all those referred to the programme last year were aged under 12, while most were aged 15 or over (75.7 per cent).

Publishing the report, Minister for Justice Alan Shatter said he believes the programme is of vital importance in working to reduce the level of child offenders. However, he said he was concerned at the increased number of offenders considered unsuitable for the programme – up 1 per cent on last year to 3,066.

The files of those not referred to the programme were sent back to the relevant local garda superintendant for possible persecution, according to the Department of Justice.

The total number of child offenders referred last year was down by 2.88 per cent from 2009 to 17,986. Of all youth offences last year, almost one-third were for public order or social code offences. Another 22.4 per cent related to theft, while 11.1 per cent concerned damage to property.

Over 7 per cent related to assault or harassment, of which 50 children were referred for rape and 119 for sexual assault.

Offenders who are formally cautioned by gardaí under the Diversion Programme are placed under garda supervision for 12 months.

The report recommended researching the rate of reoffending among youths referred to the programme and said that the Garda Office for Children and Youth Affairs should review all cases where an offender under 16 was not referred to the programme.

Read the Diversion Programme 2010 report in full >

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