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Conference Press Release

The Irish Youth Justice Service - 2nd Biennial Conference

'Young People and Crime - Where to now?'

The Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) held its 2nd Biennial Conference - 'Young People and Crime - Where to now?' at Dublin Castle on 25th February 2010.

Speaking at the Conference, Barry Andrews, T.D., Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said that the conference provides 'an opportunity to reflect not only on the progress made in the two years since the Strategy was launched, but also on the challenges which face us moving beyond the Strategy and into the future"

The Minister also announced the launch of the new online learning community "YJforum"  which has been developed by the IYJS for those working on Garda Youth Diversion Projects. The Minister explained that "this web based forum will provide a great opportunity for those practitioners working on the ground all over the country in the youth justice system to share their valuable experience and work together to help build a stronger system"

Key note addresses were given by Estelle MacDonald, Head of Hull Centre for Restorative Practices, and Lars Rand Jensen and Henrik Anderson from The Danish SSP (school, social workers and police) model.  Other topics included the White Paper on Crime, Priority Offender Programmes in Northern Ireland, the Garda Case Management Initiative and Standardised Assessments for children in the youth justice system.

Michelle Shannon, Director of the Irish Youth Justice Service highlighted the need to build on the IYJS achievements to date and for all Departments/agencies with a role to play in youth justice to work together to develop future policy. She said "the need to bring about greater efficiency in the youth justice system as part of wider public sector reform makes it more important than ever that we strive to deliver an effective system with good outcomes for children"

24 February 2010



Copies of all the presentations together with a Conference Report will be available on the IYJS website


Note for Editors:

The National Youth Justice Strategy 2008-2010 was launched in March 2008.   The aim of the Strategy is to provide a partnership approach among agencies working in the youth justice system. It includes a number of goals and targets for IYJS and other agencies to help measure progress and to assess where available resources should be targeted.

Based on the principles of the Children Act, 2001 and the Government’s decision to reform the youth justice area, the Strategy contains five high level goals:

1. To provide leadership and build public confidence in the youth justice system;
2. To work to reduce offending by diverting young people from offending behaviour;
3. To promote the greater use of community sanctions and initiatives to deal with young people who offend;
4. To provide a safe and secure environment for detained children which will assist their early re-5. integration into the community;
5. To strengthen and develop information and data sources in the youth justice system to support more effective policies and services.

Work with Garda Youth Diversion Projects

Significant work has been undertaken by the IYJS  in collaboration with An Garda Síochána to develop the 100 Garda Youth Diversion Projects

In short:

  • A baseline of current practice was undertaken April 2008-September 2008
  • The final report and change programme Designing Effective Local Responses to Youth Crime was published in July 2009
  • Since publication, IYJS and the Office for Children and Youth Affairs in An Garda Síochána have been working with Youth Organisations and Garda Youth Diversion  projects to implement significant changes which will involve a more targeted approach to dealing with local crime problems and developing the capacity of practitioners to deal with challenging behaviour.
  • This new approach involves local staff consulting closely with members of an Garda Síochána to undertake a detailed analysis of youth crime in the locality served by the project. This exercise has been considerably enhanced by the direct support of local Juvenile Liaison Officers adding their knowledge and expertise. Based on this analysis, the IYJS standard annual planning document requires each project to outline how it proposes to impact youth crime in its locality. This exercise has been a considerable undertaking for project staff but it should yield benefits by ensuring greater focus for future work.
  • IYJS is also devising a web based forum which will allow practitioners share learning and champion good practice.

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