Fewer children referred to Garda
Almost 13,000 children were referred to the Garda diversion programme in 2011, a reduction of 5,177 on the number of children referred the previous year.
However the annual monitoring report into the effectiveness of the diversion programme shows a small increase in the number of incidents recorded.The report was published by the Garda and the Irish Youth Justice Service.
"The total number of incidents referred to the diversion programme during 2011 was 27,384" the report states. "This is an increase of 127 (0.5 per cent) on the figure of 27,257 referrals received in 2010."
The diversion programme provides alternatives to detention for children between the ages of 10 and 18. A child who accepts responsibility for their behaviour and consents to being cautioned and supervised is eligible for the programme.
Of the 9,721 children deemed eligible for the programme in 2011, 6,944 had their cases dealt with by way of an informal caution, i.e. a caution without junior liaison officer (JLO) supervision, while 2,777 received a formal caution. Males represented three quarters of the children referred to the programme.
JLOs used restorative justice-where a victim meets with, or has their views presented to the offender-in 903 referrals, an increase of 110 on the 2010 figure.
Public order (28.86 per cent), theft and related offences (23.69 per cent), and damage to property and to the environment (11.31 per cent) constitute the three main categories of offences fro which children were referred.
Minister for Justice Alan Shatter welcomed the reduction in the number of children coming to the attention of the gardaí. He said the Government is committed to continuing its work to address "the plague" of low level crime.