A. Service overview and contact details
Focus of restorative justice activities
The Probation Service is the lead State agency in the assessment and management of offenders in the community. Young Persons Probation (YPP), a dedicated operational ‘region’ in the Probation Service, was established to meet the specific needs of young people referred by the courts for assessment and supervision and to fulfil statutory obligations under the Children Act 2001. Restorative justice models of intervention are delivered as part of the overall objective to address harmful behaviour and increase awareness of the victim perspective. YPP provides family and restorative conferencing services for young people who commit an offence on request from the courts and as part of supervision. The Probation Service also provides restorative justice interventions for adults, more information about which can be found on the other profile on this website.
Year of commencement
Young Persons Probation
Tel: (+353) (0)1 817 3600
Head of service (region)
Young Persons Probation (YPP) is a ‘Region’ of the Probation Service with national oversight. There are four dedicated teams – Dublin North, Dublin South, Limerick/Clare and Cork. In other areas, community teams with mixed caseloads, working with both adults and children, provide a distinct approach and tailored responses for young people and their families.
Staff training in restorative justice
In addition to the training received by Probation Officers generally as identified in the profile on the Probation Service’s use of restorative justice with adults, Probation Officers working in YPP are trained in restorative conferencing, accredited by the International Institute for Restorative Practices. The training is delivered in conjunction with staff from Le Chéile and Céim ar Chéim, which are partner community-based organisation.
Use of volunteers
Not applicable in Probation context.
Main source(s) of funding
Funding for YPP is included in the annual Probation Service budget provided by the Department of Justice.
Budget for 2020: €48.936m (overall Probation Service).
Nature of funding
The Probation Service is allocated an annual budget from the Department of Justice.
The Probation Service is a state agency located in the Department of Justice. YPP forms a distinct ‘Region’ of the Probation Service.
Target client group
Children and young people between the ages of 12 and 18 who are referred for assessment and supervision by the courts, and young people who are subject to periods of detention. Interventions with young people can extend beyond those of 18 years into young adulthood.
Nature of offences
Broad range of offences, notably:
- Public order/damage to property
- Drug offences
Source of cases
All referrals for family conferences under Section 78 of the Children Act 2001 emanate from the Children Court. Restorative interventions in the form of conferences also take place as part of Probation Service supervision.
Geographic area of activity
Provision is on a national basis.
B. Nature of RJ service
Model(s) of RJ services provided
- Family conferences
- Restorative conferences
- Other – restorative practice
Main process elements and short description of each model that the service provides
Family conferences: The Children Court may direct that a family conference be convened (Section 78, Children Act 2001) which will lead to engagement with a child and their family by the Probation Service for a period of six months. The family conference takes place at the stage when a young person is charged with an offence and appears in court, if:
- the young person accepts responsibility;
- the court considers an action plan desirable; and
- the child and child’s family agree to participate.
If these requirements are met, the family conference must be held within 28 days.
The conference seeks to bring together the victim, the young person, the young person’s family and relevant others to talk about the offence and its effects on the victim, the community and the young person’s family. It also explores ways that the young person can take responsibility, make amends and develop an agreed plan that will support them in choosing positive and prosocial activities that can assist in diversion from pathways to crime.
Restorative conferences can also be conducted as a component of assessment and/or supervision of young people, initiated by a Probation Officer in the course of their work. Victims may be invited to attend. These conferences can be utilised as part of court-ordered supervision to support the young person to understand and address the harm caused by their behaviour. The conference will assist in developing and tailoring a plan for the ongoing supervision of a child in conjunction with the child their family and significant others.
Restorative practice: In addition to delivering conferencing, YPP has developed and embedded a restorative practice approach in its engagement with young people and their families. Essentially, restorative practice expands upon the values and principles of restorative justice.
Number and nature of cases (2019/2020)
In 2019, seven family conferences took place under Section 78 of the Children Act 2001, compared with 23 in both 2018 in 2017. No s.78 conferences took place in 2020. Over the two-year periods 2019/2020 and 2020/2021, Probation Service staff delivered seven and 15 restorative interventions, respectively, as part of their supervision of offenders.
Number and nature of cases
Family Conferences – Courts (s.78)
Restorative Conferences – Probation Supervision
|– family conference||7||0||4||6|
|– shuttle mediation||0||0||1||1|
|– in process||0||0||0||4|
|Cases with victim participation|
|Cases without victim participation||1||0||3||4|
|Cases with community participation||2||0||n.a.||n.a.|
|Cases without community participation||1||0||n.a.||n.a.|
* Four further s.78 conferences were reported as having taken place in 2021, although these will not form part of our 2020 reporting.
|Offence Type*||Family Conferences – Courts (s.78)||Restorative Conferences – Probation Supervision|
|– public order||n.a.||1||2|
|– animal cruelty||n.a.||1||0|
|– possession of drugs for supply||n.a.||0||1|
*Some cases involved more than one offence; the principal offence is shown in the table for 2020/21, while all offences are listed for 2019/20.
Age and gender of offenders
|Age||Family Conferences – Courts (s.78)||Restorative Conferences – Probation Supervision|
|Family Conferences – Courts (s.78)||Restorative Conferences – Probation Supervision|
|Disposal under Probation of Offenders Act (DPOA)||0||2||1|
C. Sources of further information
- Probation Service 2013 Restorative Justice Strategy
- Probation Service Strategy 2018-2020