DUBLIN, Ireland - An Garda Siochana says it is actively working to address deficiencies relating to Youth Referrals.
An examination has found that 7,894 crimes allegedly committed by youths were not appropriately progressed between 2010 and 2017. These ranged from rape to traffic offences, with a large proportion of them being theft.
Letters will be issued to those affected between 17th January and 28 January 2019.
"I want to apologise to the more than 3,000 individual and corporate victims that we let down," An Garda Siochana Commissioner Drew Harris said Thursday. "They expected us to pursue the crimes committed against them to the fullest extent possible and in their cases we did not do this."
"Each and every one of these crimes should have been investigated. The public expects that if something is reported that it is investigated. I expect the same," Harris told Policing Authority Thursday during a public hearing.
"We also let society down by not fully pursuing these crimes, some of them serious, committed by young people."
"I also want to apologise to those young people that we let down – these were generally vulnerable children who had committed crimes in the past and would commit further crimes. We should have done better by them at the time," said Commissioner Harris.
"This examination by An Garda Siochana has found that this issue was caused by organisational and individual failings. An Garda Siiochaana discovered this problem, and active measures we put in place significantly reduced the instances of this issue to 0.7 per cent of all youth referrals by 2017. We put further measures in place in 2018 and in the last two weeks including the establishment of the National Bureau of Child Diversion headed by a Chief Superintendent on a full-time basis."
"We will continue to monitor closely this matter at local and national level to prevent any re- occurrence," said the commssioner.
The Policing Authority and the Department of Justice have been kept informed of the examination and the issues arising. In addition, An Garda Siochana has appointed Crowe Ireland to validate the examination process. They started work on this last week, the coimmissioner reported to the authority.
"What is being presented today is an interim report and the final figures may change as a result of further examination and the outcomes of individual disciplinary processes that may arise from this issue."
The commissioner pledged to keep the Policing Authority and the Department of Justice regularly informed on the outcomes of the disciplinary processes and to provide re-assurance that the system is continuing to work correctly.
"It should be said that while this examination has found serious issues with how some crimes committed by young people were processed by An Garda Sioochaana, this should not take away from the significant and important work that has been done and is being done by the Garda Youth Diversion programme in preventing crime, protecting communities and steering thousands of young people away from a life of crime," Harris told the Policing Authority. "Almost two-thirds of children receiving an informal or formal caution as their first caution under the Diversion Programme do not re-offend."