Frequently Asked Questions
The Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) is responsible for leading and driving reform in the youth justice area. This challenge is met by focusing on diversion and rehabilitation, including greater use of community-based interventions, and the promotion of initiatives to deal with young people who offend.
We fund organisations and projects providing these services, including Garda and Probation Projects, to young people aged under 18 years who find themselves in conflict with the law.
In cases where community sanctions have been deemed unsuccessful by the Courts, or where the nature of the offence committed requires a custodial sentence, young offenders are dealt with in one of the three children detention schools; Trinity House; Oberstown Boys and Oberstown Girls which are located at Lusk, Co. Dublin. Providing a safe and secure environment for detained children and supporting their early re-integration back into the community is a key function for IYJS.
If a child under the age of 18 years accepts responsibility for an offence he/she has committed, then the child may receive a caution from a member of An Garda Síochána rather than a prosecution. The decision to give a caution depends on whether the child admits that he/she committed the offence; the seriousness of the offence; and the previous criminal history of the child. The Garda Juvenile Diversion Programme is run by the Garda Juvenile Liaison Office.
Garda Youth Diversion Projects are community-based activities to help children move away from doing things that might get them or their friends into trouble with the law. There are 100 Diversion Projects across Ireland. They offer opportunities for children to become involved in positive activities and stay away from the Court system and out of custody. They are funded by IYJS and run by local management companies and administered by the Garda Community Relations Section.
If a child goes to Court and is found or pleads guilty to a crime, a Judge can decide to sentence the child to a Community Sanction. This means that the child will receive an order from the Court to do some service in his/her community or, for example, attend a particular programme. This allows the child to stay in school and at home in their community. There are 10 from which the Judge can choose, for example, Community Service, Intensive Supervision and a Day Centre Order.
A number of measures to address anti-social behaviour by children were introduced in March 2007. Behaviour Orders offer an alternative way of dealing with anti-social behaviour by children other than going through the criminal process. There are a series of steps which must be undertaken before a senior member of An Garda Síochána can seek a behaviour order through the Courts. A behaviour order will remain in force for a maximum period of 2 years. For more information please see www.asboireland.ie.
What is the Children Court?
This is a special Court for children who are in trouble with the law and who are being charged with a crime. The Children Court is where a Judge listens to both sides about what happened and decides what happens next.
The Children Court is held in the courtrooms where ordinary sittings of the District Court are held, except in Dublin which has a dedicated Children Court. The sittings are held at different times to those for adults who have to come to the District Court.
The Children Court gives special attention to helping children understand what is going on. If the parents or guardian cannot afford to pay a solicitor, the Court can offer legal aid for the child.
When a child commits an offence and is charged and convicted before the court, there are a number of sentencing options available to the judge. The Court can impose a range of community sanctions, which will address the child’s offending behaviour, while still allowing him/her stay in their own family, community and school.
However, if the Court cannot find any other option available to address the offences which the child has committed, the Court may send the child to a Children Detention School. Detention schools provide educational, training and other programmes and facilities. They provide proper care and guidance for children and help them to lead law abiding lives when they return to their communities.
There are three children detention schools: Oberstown Boys School, Oberstown Girls School and Trinity House, which are located on Oberstown Campus in Lusk, Co. Dublin.
You can contact us at:
Irish Youth Justice Service,
43 - 49 Mespil Road,
Phone: 01 6473000