Diversion activities and programmes for young offenders
In addition to the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme there are other programmes which aim to help children understand the consequences of crime and keep them out of the justice system.
Garda Youth Diversion Projects
Garda Youth Diversion Projects are administered by the Community Programmes Unit of the Irish Youth Justice Service in cooperation with the Garda Office for Children and Youth Affairs. Projects are community based, multi-agency youth crime prevention initiatives which primarily seek to divert young people who have been involved in anti-social and/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. New Operational Requirements were put in place in January 2011, replacing the 2003 Garda Youth Diversion Project Guidelines and provide a governance framework. Projects are funded by the Department of Justice and Equality.
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.