Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme and Garda Youth Diversion Projects
An Garda Síochána (Irish Police)
An Garda Síochaná is an integral part of daily life and plays an active role in working with and supporting communities. For example, members of an Gardaí Síochaná are involved in local initiatives that help children understand the consequences of crime and try to help them to stay out of the justice system. Some of these initiatives are funded under the Garda Youth Diversion Projects; there are currently 100 of these projects across the country.
If a child has to be taken to a Garda Station, the reasons are to be explained so that they understand what is happening. As soon as it is possible, a Garda will contact the child’s parents, or guardian, and explain the situation to them. The parents or guardian will be asked to come to the Garda Station. The child, parent or guardian can ask for a solicitor. The Garda will tell the child, and the parent or guardian, about this and will make contact with a solicitor if asked to do so.
Within the Garda Síochána, there are Garda officers who specifically deal with situations involving children who come into conflict with the law. These Gardaí are called Juvenile Liaison Officers (JLOs) and are located nationwide.
Nature of Offending by those under 18 years of age
An Garda Síochána statistics show that the types of offence committed by children under the age of 18 years are primarily theft, alcohol-related offences, criminal damage, assault, traffic offences, drugs possession, public order offences and burglary.
In most cases the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme is used to deal with these offences.
Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme
If a child gets into trouble with the law, the Gardaí may decide to caution him/her and keep him/her under supervision rather than go to Court. This form of diversion for children was started in 1963 and, because it has been successful, the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme exists across the country and is included as part of the Children Act 2001.
A child suspected of an offence is referred to the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme. In 2005, there were 17,567 children referred to the programme and 75% were issued a caution.
A child may also agree, as part of a caution, a number of actions which he/she will do to address the hurt that they have caused. This can include an apology to the victim, a form of compensation, a curfew or to take part in a sporting or recreational activity. Children on the programme may also be referred to the Garda Youth Diversion Projects.
For more information on the Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme click here.
Garda Youth Diversion Projects
Garda Youth Diversion Projects are local community activities which work with children. The projects aim to help children move away from behaving in a way that might get them or their friends into trouble with the law. They can help young people develop their sense of community and their social skills through different activities.
The projects offer opportunities for education, employment training, sport, art, music and other activities. Most projects operate outside of school hours, however, in areas with a high proportion of early school-leavers, activities may also be planned during the daytime.
The projects seek to encourage a better quality of life for everyone in the community and to support good relations between the Gardaí and the Community.
You can learn more about An Garda Síochána by visiting their website, www.garda.ie.