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Written Answers - Crime Prevention

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 3

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 404.  Deputy Bernard J. Durkan Information on Bernard Durkan Zoom on Bernard Durkan  asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  the extent to which recidivism has been studied with particular reference to crime prevention and or rehabilitation; the extent to which issues arising from such studies have been implemented in each of the past four years to date in 2012; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6927/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Irish Prison Service facilitated a major study of prisoner re-offending by the UCD Institute of Criminology, the findings of which were published in May, 2008. The study found that 27.4% of released prisoners were serving a new prison sentence with one year. This rose to 39.2% after two years, 45.1% after three years, and 49.2% after four years. The fact that over 50% of prisoners do not re-offend within four years of release compares well internationally.

The Prison Service provides a range of rehabilitative programmes with the dual purpose of providing prisoners with purposeful activity while serving their sentences and encouraging and equipping them to lead productive lives on release. These interventions are important in addressing offending behaviour, drug and alcohol addiction, missed educational and vocational opportunities, anger management, and self-management in the interest of encouraging positive personal development in prisoners, and preparing them for re-integration and resettlement on [504]release from custody. These programmes are available in all prisons and all prisoners are eligible to use the services.

The Probation Service is in the process of conducting initial research in order to measure the recidivism rates of offenders under their management. Preliminary findings from the work done to date indicate that the percentage of offenders who did not commit an offence in the 12 and 24 month periods after their initial conviction is high. However, this is a complex area of study and this research needs to be validated further before exact figures and findings can be published.

Crime prevention and reduction is a core part of the mission of An Garda Síochána. The Force attaches great importance to working in co-operation with the community, those directly affected by crime, and relevant Government Departments and Agencies. There are dedicated Crime Prevention Officers (CPOs) within each Garda Division who are trained to encourage, promote and advise on crime prevention.

At local level, inter-agency co-operation includes in particular the work of Joint Policing Committees which are a forum to consult, discuss and make recommendations on policing matters arising in their area, including the prevention of crime. The Programme for Government makes a commitment to build on existing community policing partnerships and forums to enhance trust between local communities and their Gardaí. Accordingly, my Department has commenced a review of how the Committees have operated since their establishment, to be followed by a broader consultation process with the aim of seeing how their operation might be improved. My Department is in contact with local authorities in this regard.

More generally, work is underway in my Department on the development of a White Paper on Crime following an extensive consultation process with a broad range of Governmental and non-Governmental agencies and the public. It is intended that the White Paper will incorporate a framework National Anti-Crime Strategy which will reflect and respond to issues raised during the consultation process, including issues relating to crime prevention and offender rehabilitation initiatives. The White Paper is expected to be completed this year.

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