Dáil Éireann - Volume 531 - 01 March, 2001

Written Answers. - Crime Prevention.

96. Mr. Callely asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the progress of his crime prevention programme; the amount of money which has been drawn down from the national development plan provision of £87 mill[1378] ion; the evaluation and success of the programme to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6105/01]

Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. O'Donoghue): My Department has responsibility for a number of measures under the national development plan of which the crime prevention programme received funding of £87 million. A sum of £46 million was allocated to prisons service training and development, £25 million to the Probation and Welfare Service and £16 million has been provided to fund a Garda youth diversion programme.

The prisons service is responsible for the CONNECT prisons service project, which was developed on a pilot basis at Mountjoy Prison, the training unit and the Dóchas centre, new Women's Prison, in Dublin over the period 1998-1999. The pilot project developed methodologies for building effective linkages from custody to labour market participation after release for people in custody. During 2000, the earlier pilot project was consolidated in the three start-up prisons and preparations were made to bring the project to the other prisons in Ireland. By end 2000, just over 700 ex-offenders had participated in the programme. The number of participants who were released and secured labour market participation was 40, including four women.

While the numbers entering employment immediately after release is low, my Department is confident that these placement rates will be improved on over the life of the plan. The project is being extended to five more prisons, Wheatfield and St. Patrick's Institution in Dublin, Cork and Limerick Prisons and Castlerea Prison. The total expenditure on the CONNECT project in the year 2000 was £2.1 million. Under the crime prevention measure, the Probation and Welfare Service will provide a broad range of interventions to underpin supervision of ex-offenders in the community and the construction of eleven centres. The eleven centres will provide pre-vocational training to facilitate re-entry to the labour market. The precise scheduling will be determined by the pace of local negotiations. Already a booking deposit has been paid on a property in Sligo and discussions have commenced with owners in Tallaght and Athlone.

The Probation and Welfare Service has also developed a linkage programme, which is a joint venture between the service and employers in Dublin and is supported by IBEC. The total expenditure by the Probation and Welfare Service under the national development plan in 2000 was approximately £311,000. The Garda youth diversion programme sub-measure is a community based crime prevention initiative and currently comprises 22 projects and this number will increase further in the current year. The total expenditure to the end of 2000 was £360,000.

Since the beginning of January, 2000, my Department also has responsibility for seven mainstreamed local drugs task force projects which come under the [1379] local development measure and their total budgeted cost comes to approximately £1.3 million over the life of the plan. All the projects in my Department coming under the crime prevention measure and the Garda youth diversion programme of the national development plan are subject to ongoing evaluation and monitoring and this will continue throughout the life of the plan.