200 'repeat offenders' criminals to be targeted under new strategy to tackle crime levels
Two hundred criminals who are classified as 'repeat offenders' are to be targeted as part of new strategy involving Gardaí, the Probation Service and the Irish Prison Service.
The Joint Agency Response to Crime initiative (J-ARC) will see offenders take part in programmes to help them reconnect with the families, receiving treatments for problems such as addiction and get help finding training or work placement.
Launching the scheme in Dublin today, Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said: "I would also like to oversee a system which aims to reduce the number of victims by a reduction in offending".
"The launch of J-ARC today is an endorsement of the work done by criminal justice agencies and community organisations together in challenging offending behaviour which has at its centre the needs of victims to feel safer in their communities.”
The J-ARC strategy prioritises certain prolific offenders and to develop specific initiatives which will address their behaviour and reduce crime thereby increasing community safety.
In Ireland it is estimated that 75pc of property crime is linked to 25pc of offenders.
"Targeting this cohort of repeat offenders has the potential to significantly reduce the number of burglaries being committed," Ms Fitzgerald said.
"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.
"A change in a person’s offending ways has a direct effect on reducing the number of crime victims.”
Already three pilot schemes have been under way in the capital and Garda Commissioner Noirin O'Sullivan said she would like to see the initiative rolled out nationwide in the future.
In Ballymun, a pilot known as STRIVE has targeted prolific offenders within East Ballymun whose behaviour is undermining the community's quality of life.
Another scheme known as 'Bridge Change Works Programme' is targeting adult male offenders living in Dublin with a history of violent crime.
And a third pilot, called Accer3, is for offenders charged with burglary.