Since 1991, An Garda Síochána has operated 'Diversion Projects' which are funded by the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform and managed by local committees comprising representatives from An Garda Síochána, the Probation and Welfare Service, youth organisations, schools and the local community.
These Diversion Projects aim to divert young people from criminal/ antisocial behaviour by involving them in suitable activities to facilitate personal development, encourage civic responsibility and work towards improving long-term employability prospects. Each Project targets young people in a defined geographic area with a combination of 'Intervention Programmes' and 'Prevention Programmes'. 'Intervention Programmes' involve a high level of interaction and participation and are targeted at young people who have offended and are likely to re-offend, as well as young people who have not yet offended but are deemed to be at high risk of offending. 'Prevention Programmes' are more broadly based, generally involving the dissemination of information to young people on topics such as personal safety and drug misuse.
The overall objective of the Diversion Projects is to reduce young people's involvement in crime and, in doing so, improve both quality of life within the community and Garda/ Community relations.
There are currently 100 Youth Diversion Projects in operation. In the Policing Plan for 2008 (PDF, 911 KB), the Gardaí pledge to "identify suitable locations for the further development of Garda Youth Diversion Projects in cionsultation with the Irish Youth Justice Service".