Bail supervision scheme for young offenders extended to Cork and Limerick
A bail supervision scheme which offers an alternative to remand detention for young people charged with criminal offences has been extended to courts in Cork and Limerick.
Children’s Minister Dr Katherine Zappone has signed a contract with Extern for the continuation and expansion of the Bail Supervision Scheme following its successful roll-out in Dublin in 2016.
Under the scheme, courts are given the option of granting bail with intensive supervision as an alternative to remand detention for children and young people, enabling young people at high risk of bail denial to adhere to bail conditions and helping to reduce potential reoffending through 24/7 supports.
A positive evaluation of the scheme was conducted by the Research Evidence into Policy Programmes and Practice (REPPP) project at the University of Limerick and published last December.
The scheme employs a model called Multisystemic Therapy (MST), an evidence-based approach which seeks to understand the factors that contribute to the young person’s behaviour and to assist in the compliance with bail conditions, as the main intervention. This is supplemented with other interventions depending on the needs of the young people.
Dr Zappone said: “I am delighted to be funding the expansion of the Bail Supervision Scheme to support young people in complying with bail conditions laid down by the court and in effecting positive change in their lives.
“The scheme offers an alternative to detention for young people, and is aimed at supporting them to be at home, in education, training or employment, and to remain out of trouble with the law.
“I am also very aware of the dedication of practitioners in the field of youth justice and of the challenges that are faced daily. The key to overcoming these challenges is co-operation among us all. In this regard, I and my department are fully supportive of working with all parties in ensuring the smooth operation of the system.”
Welcoming the extension of the scheme, Fíona Ní Chinnéide, executive director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), said: “Children and young people should only ever be detained as a last resort, when all other avenues have been exhausted, and never for welfare reasons.
“The Bail Supervision Scheme has helped address Ireland’s overuse of remand detention for children, with better outcomes for everyone. This is the kind of innovative approach to justice that IPRT would like to see included the next Programme for Government.
“Crises in children’s lives don’t generally happen between 9 and 5, and the availability of the supports on a 24/7 basis plays a significant role in the success of the Bail Supervision Scheme, along with its focused, interagency approach that responds to the needs of the young person.
“The success of the Bail Supervision Scheme shows what can be achieved through evidence-led innovation. This scheme and the approaches it uses are supported by international and local research, data, and evidence on what works to address offending behaviour, support young people, and reduce dependence on remanding young people to custody.”