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Bid to prevent children being groomed into crime
Justice minister Simon Harris Pic: RollingNews.ie

18 Jan 2023 / legislation Print

Bid to prevent children being groomed for crime

The Cabinet has backed the publication of a bill that would make it an offence to groom children to commit criminal activity.

The Department of Justice says that the Criminal Justice (Engagement of Children in Criminal Activity) Bill 2023 will, for the first time, create specific offences where an adult compels, coerces, induces, or invites a child to engage in criminal activity.

The penalty, on conviction, is up to five years’ imprisonment.

The new offence will be a separate, prosecutable offence, on top of the provisions in current law that allow an adult who causes or uses a child to commit a crime to be found guilty as the principal offender – meaning they can be punished as though they had committed the crime themselves.

‘Breaking the link’

Minister for Justice Simon Harris (pictured) said that the measure was aimed at breaking the link between gangs, and the vulnerable young people they sought to recruit.

“Some children and teenagers are being deceived by criminal networks into believing crime can bring wealth, bling, and a party lifestyle, but in reality it brings debts, fear, and potentially worse,” he said.

The minister believes that the new legislation will also give an Garda Síochána the ability to intervene locally to prevent offences taking place.

The legislation has been informed by the Greentown Project, which is being implemented by the University of Limerick in partnership with the Department of Justice and the Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth.

This project was set up to investigate the involvement of children in criminality, and to develop interventions to tackle the problem.

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