CHILDREN in Cork commit more than five crimes a day, according to new figures from the Department of Justice.
A total of 1,988 offences were recorded as being committed by 1,082 juveniles across Cork's three Garda divisions in 2015, the most recent figures released by the Department.
The area with the highest number of crimes by those under the age of 18 was Cork city which recorded 1,090 incidents.
While the number may seem high, it actually represents a decrease in juvenile crime by 19% when compared to the previous year.
The Cork West Garda division recorded 396 crimes by youths in 2015, the same as the previous year, while the Cork North division recorded 502 such crimes – an increase of 6%.
Three out of every four of these crimes were carried out by males.
Theft is the most common crime committed by under-18s (28.6%), followed by public order offences (22.7%) and damage to property and to the environment (11.3%).
Nationally, two youths were involved in homicides in 2015 while 16 were in possession of a firearm and 241 had committed sexual offences.
The figures have been collated by the Garda Diversion Programme which essentially offers an alternative to the courts system when dealing with cases of juvenile crime.
When an offence is recorded, and an underage culprit apprehended, the young person can either be brought before the courts or can be considered for a caution as part of the diversion programme.
The latest report into the initiative reveals it is proving effective.
Nationwide, more than 9,000 youths were recorded as committing almost 20,000 crimes in 2015. This represents a decrease of 2% on the previous year, meaning juvenile offences are now at the lowest level ever.
The highest point was in 2007 when almost 22,000 children committed just under 28,000 offences.
Justice Minister Frances Fitzgerald hailed the work being done by the Garda Diversion Programme and said both she and junior Minister David Stanton are “determined” to ensure the youth justice system continues to find alternative ways to deal with offending and to prevent future offending.
“I want to acknowledge the excellent work done by Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers and to signal the importance of the State’s investment in the nationwide network of Garda Youth Diversion Projects which substantially supports the operation of the Diversion Programme,” she said.
“The Government remains firmly committed to continuing its work to reduce youth crime and on anti-social behaviour.”