You are here: Home > Publications > NCC Publications > Summary of Recommendations

Summary of Recommendations: Problem Solving Justice - The Case for Community Courts in Ireland.

  1. The Council recommends that Community Courts be established in Ireland. The Council further recommends that Community Courts be established as stand alone courts in areas of high population. Community Courts could form part of an ordinary District Court in rural areas where this factor is not present.

  2. The Council recommends that each stand alone Community Court be located in a dedicated building within the geographic area of the community it serves. (p.35, p.38) 2. The Council recommends that the following offences should come within the remit of any Community Courts established in Ireland ¹ (p.38)
    • Drunk in Public: Section 4 – Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994;
    • Disorderly Conduct – Night Time: Section 5 – Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994;
    • Disorderly Conduct: Section 5 – Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994;
    • Threatening/Abusive/Insulting Behaviour: Section 6 – Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994;
    • Refuse to Give Name: Section 24 (3) – Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994;
    • Wilful Obstruction: Section 9 – Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994;
    • Failure to Comply with the Direction of a Member of Garda Síochána: Section 8 – Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act, 1994;
    • Assault: Section 2 – Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act, 1997;
    • Criminal Damage: Section 2 – Criminal Damage Act, 1981;
    • Soliciting/Loitering: Sections 7 and 8 – Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act, 1993;
    • Drug Use: Section 3 – Misuse of Drugs Act, 1977;
    • Theft: Section 4 – Theft and Fraud Offences Act, 2001;
    • Handling Stolen Property: Section 17 – Theft and Fraud Offences Act, 2001. Whilst this is not defined in legislation, only offences where the value of the property is less than €1,000 will be dealt with by the Community Court;
    • Illegal Street Trading – Section 2 – Street Trading Act 1926; Section 3 – Casual Trading Act 1980; Section 10 – Non-Fatal (Offences Against the Persons) Act 1997.

    The list is not intended to be exhaustive.

  3. Dublin Community Court
    The Council recommends that a Community Court be established in the inner city of Dublin to deal with ‘quality of life’ offences committed in the Store Street and Pearse Street Garda station catchment areas and, when convincing evidence of its success emerges, Community Courts should be extended to other centres subject to any necessary refinements. (p.39)

  4. The Council recommends that the Dublin Community Court should deal with sufficient cases so as to justify the services it retains. The caseload of the Community Court should be built incrementally, permitting the new court to develop and refine its operating procedures. The Council recommends that the caseload of each Community Court be kept under regular review to ensure that the caseload is a manageable one. (p.40)

  5. The Council further recommends that, as in other jurisdictions, each Community Court should have one, dedicated judge. (p.40)

  6. The Council considers that it is not essential that all of the services, such as drug/ alcohol addiction counselling, be delivered onsite. The Council recommends that these services be delivered on the basis of specific service level agreements with the relevant agencies. (p.40)

  7. Recognising the focus of Community Courts on solving an individual’s problems, the Council recommends that all therapeutic services/programmes which defendants are ordered to complete/participate in, operate within the area of the Dublin Community Court or close to where the defendant lives. This will facilitate participation by those who offend in the city centre area but live in another location. As was seen to be beneficial in other jurisdictions, the Council recommends that there be continued contact between the staff of the Dublin Community Court and the defendant in cases where it is not possible for a defendant to begin his/her programme/addiction counselling immediately following his/her appearance before the Community Court. (p.41)

  8. Assessment
    The Council recommends that a pre court assessment be carried out in all cases. (p.41)

  9. Monitoring of Compliance
    The Council recommends that there be rigorous monitoring by the Community Court of compliance with Court orders. (p.49) National Crime Council
  10. The Council recommends that, at a minimum, the following services be available to the Dublin Community Court when it is initially established:
    • Alcohol/Drug Addiction assessment and counselling;
    • Educational/Literacy courses;
    • Pre-employment and other training programmes;
    • Family, Housing and other Social Services;
    • Parenting programmes; and
    • Anger Management Courses.
    These services are likely to be subject to revision and possibly expansion in the future. (p.41)
  11. Community Work Placements
    The Council recommends that community work assignments should:
    1. be measured in periods of days up to a maximum of four days for those cases at the highest end of offending;
    2. ideally, be linked to the offence committed and be completed in the area where the crime was committed;
    3. commence, or firm arrangements be put in place for its commencement, immediately after the defendant has appeared before the Community Court;
    The Council also recommends that:
    1. a variety of different types of community work should be available to the Community Court at any given time;
    2. efforts should be made to facilitate defendants who have children when making arrangements for the completion of community work; and
    3. opportunities for community work, suitable for defendants with substance abuse problems, should be available to the Community Court.
    4. in carrying out community work, care should be taken to ensure that defendants are treated with respect and dignity;
    5. community work placements should not be used in situations which would displace others in paid employment. (p.42, p.43)

  12. Implementation Group.
    The Council recommends that an implementation group be established immediately to oversee the introduction of the Dublin Community Court. Relevant statutory and non statutory agencies should be represented on this implementation group. (p.52)
  13. The Council further recommends that there should be community representation on the implementation group. (p.52)

  14. Project Management.
    The Council recommends that a Project Manager, with a proven track record in service delivery, be appointed by the Courts Service to oversee the development of the Dublin Community Court. (p.52)

  15. The Council recommends that the Dublin Community Court be open within six months of the appointment of the Project Manager. (p.52)

  16. Furthermore, the Council recommends that the Project Manager consult with all the organisations which will provide services to the Dublin Community Court to secure a guaranteed level and quality of service and, in particular, speedy delivery of services. (p.53)

  17. Community Involvement.
    All avenues to formalise the involvement of the community should be explored. (p.43)

  18. Evaluation.
    The Council recommends that there be an on-going, dedicated research component to the work of the Dublin Community Court and that a formal, independent evaluation of the Dublin Community Court be conducted after three years of operation. (p.53)


  19. The Council further recommends that an evaluation should also be carried out prior to the commencement of the Dublin Community Court of the perception of the quality of life in the neighbourhood. This should not delay the implementation group in its deliberations. (p.53)

  20. The Council recommends that detailed statistics be compiled and published which should include: n the caseload of the Dublin Community Court; n the characteristics of the defendants; n the number and type of court ordered disposals etc. n recidivism rates amongst those dealt with by the Dublin Community Court. (p.53)

 


Footnotes:

  1. Some of these offences are also covered by the fixed penalty offences as provided for in the Criminal Justice Act, 2006 and the Garda Adult Cautioning Scheme. The DPP, as the prosecuting authority, will have the right of veto over all defendants being sent to the Community Court. Summary of Recommendations Problem Solving Justice The Case for Community Courts in Ireland

Back to Top