Diversion activities and programmes for young offenders
Garda Youth Diversion Projects
Garda Youth Diversion Projects are administered by the Department of Justice’s Youth Crime Policy and Programmes Division, which operates as part of the Irish Youth Justice Service in partnership with the Garda Youth Diversion Office. Projects are community based, multi-agency youth crime prevention initiatives which primarily seek to divert young people who have been involved in anti-social or criminal behaviour.
The projects provide the children with opportunities to engage in activities such as education, employment training, sport, art and music. Most projects operate outside of school hours, although activities may also be planned during the daytime.
There are approximately 100 projects and they are managed by community based organisations. In general, each project is staffed by two youth justice workers. An Operational Requirements document setting out a governance framework for projects has been published. Projects are co-funded by the Irish Government and European Social Fund.
The Irish Youth Justice Service has published a Progress Report on Garda Youth Diversion Project Development (pdf).
At school level, the Gardaí operate a programme which is designed to discourage young people from involving themselves in criminal behaviour. This programme is called the Schools Programme. The programme involves Gardaí visiting classrooms and undertaking projects and trips with pupils in 5th class in primary schools. A programme for post-primary schools has been developed to run in conjunction with the Social, Personal and Health Education syllabus for Junior Cycle.
As well as making young people aware of the dangers of criminal behaviour, the Schools Programme also shows children the positive side of the work of the Gardaí and encourages good relations between pupils and the Gardaí.