Belfast Telegraph

Project targeting repeat criminals over property crime expanded

A new strategy has been expanded to reduce the 25% of offenders who are responsible for three quarters of property crime.

While pilot programmes are already running to tackle recidivism from burglars, violent criminals in Dublin and a local project in Ballymun, the Department of Justice is to use the initiative to target prolific offenders.

The Garda, Probation Service and the Irish Prison Service will work together under the Joint Agency Response to Crime (J-Arc) programme to address criminals' behaviour and reduce offending.

Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald said targeting repeat criminals has the potential to significantly reduce the number of burglaries in the country.

"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."

Ms Fitzgerald said the needs of victims of crime to feel safer in their communities is at the heart of the programme.

And she also emphasised the important role the community plays in working with offenders, supporting rehabilitation, reintegration and engagement in a positive lifestyle.

"It makes sense that by targeting identified prolific offenders with cross cutting initiatives like this one, that address their criminal behaviour and the harm it does, crime will be reduced and public safety increased," she said.

"These people require a specific programme in the community if they are to make better choices. I totally endorse this coordinated and multi-agency approach."

J-Arc will work with nominated prolific offenders and co-ordinate and integrate policy, practice and research between the organisations involved in an attempt to reduce repeat offending.

Statistics released with the plan claim three quarters of all property crime is committed by 25% of criminals.

The scheme is the latest attempt by the Government to tackle criminality, particularly in rural areas, with more mobile armed garda units promised and new laws on the way to enforce tougher bail rules and electronic tagging.

According to the latest official figures, just a fifth of burglaries were classed resolved in 2013.


From Belfast Telegraph