A NEW service specifically designed to address youth crime in Kerry has been launched by Justice Minister, Frances Fitzgerald.
The Kerry Empowering Youth (KEY) initiative is the country’s first Garda Divisional Model of Youth Justice programme and it is being introduced in association with the Kerry Diocesan Youth Service
The KDYS teamed up with garda juvenile liaison officers and other agencies to develop a pilot model using existing resources.
The project has been very successful and has enabled those involved to reach over 100 young people so far who would not have otherwise received support.
The scheme allows access to supports from youth workers to be expanded to deliver services to young people currently beyond their reach and to target resources more effectively.
Minister Fitzgerald congratulated the KDYS and Kerry Gardaí on the delivery of the new model and for their commitment to young people.
“It is the first of its kind in the country and it highlights the benefits of different organisations, both community based like the KDYS, and statutory bodies like the Gardaí and Irish Youth Justice, working together to benefit young people,” she said.
The new service will make a difference to the lives of young people in Kerry due to the dedication and commitment of all those involved, she predicted.
Minster Fitzgerald added: “The national trend in youth crime is one of reduced incidences of offending and lower numbers of referrals to the Garda Youth Diversion Programme. This is good news.
“It indicates that the programme has had some success and has made significant inroads in targeting supports to young people that effectively divert them towards more positive life choices.”
Those involved in the initiative stress that fewer young people are coming to the attention of gardaí and this provides a great opportunity to build on that trend and to better target resources towards those who continue to come to their attention.