Money seized from criminals to fund community safety projects

Applications for the funding open from today, with investment to start at €2m a year

From Monday communities will be able to apply for funding from money seized from criminals by the Criminal Assets Bureau (Cab).

Initially, €2 million a year will be available for investment as part of the Community Safety Innovation fund. The money will come from the proceeds of crime seized by Cab officers and the Garda, and the yearly spend is expected to grow over the coming years, the Government has said.

"This new fund will ensure that the success of An Garda Síochána and Cab is reflected in new investments in our communities, and on projects which will build strong and safe communities," said Minister for Justice Helen McEntee.

“This fund will ensure that the best proposals get the funding they need, and it will encourage the development of innovative ways in which to improve community safety from those people who understand local needs best.

“For example, the new fund could help communities improve public spaces, or fund local sporting or arts facilities.”

The Department of Justice has called for applications for projects, including those that tackle crime or the fear of crime, reduce reoffending and divert “vulnerable individuals away from engagement in criminal behaviour”.

There will be no correlation between the money seized in an area and the amount of funding granted in that area. Instead, proceeds of crime will go into a single fund, which will be distributed on a national basis.

Currently Cab must retain seized funds for five years before passing them on to the exchequer. Since its establishment in 1996, the bureau has seized about €199 million.

The call for funding will run until June 8th, and grants will range from €20,000 to €150,000. The fund will be administered in a similar fashion to the Dormant Accounts Fund, which is also used to fund various communities initiatives.

The Department of Justice said the fund would “allow best practice on community safety and youth justice to be shared with other partnerships and communities nationally as new proposals are developed”.

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher

Conor Gallagher is Crime Correspondent of The Irish Times