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Bid to prevent grooming of children for crime
(Pic: Shutterstock)

24 May 2024 / legislation Print

Bid to prevent grooming of children for crime

Legislation aimed at preventing children from falling into crime has come into effect.

The Criminal Justice (Engagement of Children in Criminal Activity) Act 2024 makes it an offence for an adult to either force or encourage children to engage in any criminal activity.

The Minister for Justice Helen McEntee has now commenced the legislation, under which those found guilty of the new offences can face imprisonment of up to 12 months on summary conviction and up to five years on indictment.

The Department of Justice described the law as “an important tool in the arsenal of gardaí to disrupt criminal networks and pursue those who use vulnerable young people to keep their own hands clean”.

Aim to avoid criminalising children

The legislation will:

  • Make it an offence for an adult to compel, coerce, direct, or deceive a child for the purpose of engaging in criminal activity,
  • Make it an offence for an adult to induce, invite, aid, abet, counsel, or procure a child to engage in criminal activity, and
  • Limit the liability for offences to adults, to avoid further criminalising children.

“This important legislation will criminalise adults who are ruining young people’s lives and blighting their communities by forcing or enticing them into criminal lifestyles,” said Minister McEntee.

“While offending might start small, it often snowballs into something more serious, and suddenly there is no way out for a young person whose life can become plagued by debts, fear and intimidation,” she concluded.

The legislation was influenced by the Greentown Project, which is being implemented by the University of Limerick in partnership with the Department of Justice.

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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