The Garda Youth Diversion Programme Report for 2009 clearly shows that alcohol is at the heart of the current disturbing levels and nature of underage crime, according to Fine Gael councillor, Peter Burke.
“Underage crime in Ireland is soaked in alcohol. The figures published on Thursday August 19, in the Garda Youth Diversion Programme Report for 2009, show that there were 3,079 cases of public drunkenness and 1,144 instances involving the illegal purchase, possession, or consumption of alcohol. If this figure has fallen it is only because the hard pressed members of the Garda Youth Diversion Programme cannot deal with current levels of underage drinking which is at saturation point,” said Cllr Burke.
“The report also reveals the disturbing nature of the crimes that young people are now engaging in. There were 74 cases involving sexual offences dealt with by the diversion programme, 17 of which involved rape. This is worrying in the extreme and many of these crimes are undoubtedly related to alcohol consumption by minors. If the underage drinking crisis is not dealt with now through education from an early age, the situation will inevitably deteriorate further.
“At present children can purchase alcohol online or by text and have it delivered to their homes, it is that easy. It should be no surprise then that underage crime is characterised by alcohol consumption by minors.
He added that Fine Gael believes the number of Juvenile Liaison Officers needs to increase.
“Putting resources into dealing with underage crime, in particular its association with alcohol consumption can go a long way towards preventing children from becoming the gang lords of the future,” he concluded.