Despite the growing issue of youth crime, figures released to Róisín Shortall TD have revealed that powers granted to the gardaí to tackle the problem are not being used. Since their introduction in 2008 the number of Behaviour Warnings issued by the Gardaí has fallen by 85%.
Deputy Shortall explained: “When a child or young person is getting involved in persistent antisocial behaviour, early intervention is vital to stop them being drawn in to more serious crime. That is why gardaí were granted the power to issue official Behaviour Warnings to children and their parents, to make them aware that more serious steps may be taken if the behaviour continues.
“However, the figures show that the number of these warnings has plummeted. In 2008, 505 warnings were issued; by 2012 it have halved to 240; and by the end of last year there were just 71 warnings issued nationally. That’s a drop of 85% over the course of 10 years.”
Deputy Shortall concluded: “These measures should never be about criminalising children, but they can play an important role in removing them from environments and behaviours that lead down a dangerous path.
“In recent years community workers have been reporting a significant increase in the number of minors becoming involved in drug dealing because of the perception that they’re untouchable under the law. These warnings were introduced to nip this sort of behaviour in the bud. Yet, according to the provisional numbers for this year, just 10 warnings have been issued.
“There is clearly something wrong with the system. We need to know why the Gardaí are not using the powers available to them and what, if anything, they are doing as an alternative.”
4 June 2018