Plan to tackle re-offenders in crackdown on burglaries
Burglary is a "heinous crime" that has been underestimated in the past, Justice Minister France Fitzgerald has said.
She was speaking at the launch of the latest initiative to tackle crime which will target offenders with multiple convictions.
Up to 200 criminals considered to be among the worst re-offenders in the country are to be the focus of the multi-agency programme aimed at stamping out recidivism.
Gardaí claim that 75pc of property crimes are carried out by just 25pc of criminals.
They are now to work with the Probation Service and the Irish Prison Service under the Joint Agency Response to Crime (J-Arc), which will help prolific offenders to find treatment for addictions, training and work.
The three agencies will nominate individuals they believe to be suitable for the programme and share knowledge about the convict in an attempt to help them fit better into the community.
"I think burglary of a person's home is a very traumatic crime. I think it's been underestimated in the past. It can have a devastating impact on people's sense of security at a personal level and at a psychological level. It impacts on families, it impacts on the street, it impacts on community," Ms Fitzgerald said.
"We have to be determined to deal with burglaries, to take it seriously and to protect our communities."
Three pilot programmes are already underway to tackle recidivism from burglars and violent criminals in Dublin, but Garda Commissioner Nóirín O'Sullivan said gardaí are "very excited about the potential the project has to be rolled out nationally".
"It also gives us the opportunity to deal with the high-impact re-offenders who are causing the havoc and chaos in society," she said.
Ms Fitzgerald said that by "targeting this cohort of offenders" there is the potential to reduce the number of burglaries.
"While I believe that prison is the right place for serious and serial offenders, listening to the offenders who are participating in the J-Arc programmes clearly demonstrates the real benefit of providing support and hope to those who wish to change their offending ways," she said.
"A change in a person's offending ways has a direct effect on reducing the number of crime victims."
Deirdre Malone of the Irish Penal Reform Trust told the Irish Independent they are "cautiously positive" about the scheme. "We hope it's not just a paper exercise. So far it seems to have been a positive initiative.
"The causes of crime are multifaceted. They are complex. In many cases they can be addiction and mental health."