To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform his plans to expand the number of juvenile liaison officers here; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
It is the responsibility of the Garda Commissioner to decide on the prioritisation and allocation of resources within the force. The Commissioner has informed me that, as of 31 May 2008, the number of Gardaí assigned to the Juvenile Liaison Service was 101. The Garda Commissioner has given a commitment to appoint an additional 21 personnel by 2010. Of course, while these officers are specifically dedicated to this service, a significant number of Gardaí are engaged in liaising with juveniles on a day-to-day basis.
The Commissioner has also pointed out that Garda personnel assigned throughout the country, together with overall policing arrangements and operational strategy, are continually monitored and reviewed. Such monitoring ensures that optimum use is made of Garda resources, and the best possible Garda service is provided to the general public.
The Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme has proven to be highly successful in diverting young persons away from crime by offering guidance and support to juveniles and their families. It also enables referral to the Garda Youth Diversion Projects which operate separately from the Diversion Programme. These Projects are community-based, multi-agency crime prevention initiatives which seek to divert young people from becoming involved, or further involved, in anti-social or criminal behaviour. There are currently 100 of these projects operating throughout the country.