Department of Justice and Equality of Ireland

03/26/2021 | Press release | Distributed by Public on 03/26/2021 04:38

Minister McEntee publishes report of Drogheda Scoping Exercise

Minister McEntee publishes report of Drogheda Scoping Exercise

  • Report outlines 70 actions to improve community safety and wellbeing in Drogheda
  • Work to begin on immediate actions with full implementation plan to be published by the end of April
  • Funding of €150,000 secured from Dormant Accounts Fund to contribute to implementation of recommendations

26 March 2021

The Minister for Justice, Ms Helen McEntee TD, has today published the Scoping Report into Community Safety and Wellbeing in Drogheda.

The scoping exercise was carried out by the former Director of the Probation Service, Mr Vivian Geiran and an implementation plan will be developed by the end of next month.

The scoping report makes over 70 recommendations on short and long term responses to challenges the community faces, including around crime prevention, youth services, drug addiction, education, infrastructure, and community development.

The publication of the Drogheda Scoping Exercise and the development of an implementation plan are key actions in Minister McEntee's Justice Plan 2021.

The Minister said,

'On behalf of the Government, I wish to express my gratitude to Vivian Geiran for his work conducting this exercise.

'Drogheda is the largest town in the State, with a growing and diverse population. This presents the town with great opportunities and we all wish to see Drogheda thrive in the years ahead. However, the town has also faced significant challenges as a result of the actions of those involved in criminal activity including activity linked to organised crime, which have severely affected the feelings of safety and security for members of the local community over recent years. This scoping report presents a valuable opportunity to strengthen the Government's response to criminal activity by a small minority of people in Drogheda, through better coordination of services and cooperation across Government bodies.

'While there has been a concerted effort on the part of An Garda Síochána to bring those engaged in violence to justice, and the report says that the good work by An Garda Síochána in targeting and disrupting activities of those involved at a senior level in the drugs trade should continue, community safety cannot be the sole responsibility of policing activity and this scoping report makes clear that the response in Drogheda can be strengthened through better coordination of services.'

The report identifies a number of service gaps and needs that need to be addressed in the town, broadly falling under the headings of coordination needs and gaps or other needs in individual services themselves.

In addition to greater cross-agency coordination, the report makes a number of recommendations under the following themes: Addressing Crime; Drug Use and Drug Addiction; Youth and Community Development; Children and Young People; Education and Training; Arts and Sport; Local Authority and Services; Local Infrastructure; Employment and Local Development; and Ethnic and Racial Issues.

The Minister added,

'As well as publishing the scoping report, my Department has identified some actions for early implementation which can be progressed in line with the finalisation of the implementation plan. This includes providing funding to the Red Door project and the Family Addiction Network.

'Funding of €150,000 has been secured from the Dormant Accounts Fund to contribute to the implementation of recommendations, and my Department will be engaging with those local bodies identified in the report as requiring additional funding as to their precise funding needs. Over the next few weeks engagement will continue with relevant Departments with a view to finalising the implementation plan by the end of April.'

It is anticipated that the €150,000 in urgent funding will be invested in drugs outreach work, counselling, family support, client progression pathways, Court-related and prisoner support and additional harm reduction services.

The Department of Justice will engage with other Government Departments and with local authority and community groups in Drogheda to progress the Moneymore community centre. Early action will also be taken to engage with the Department of Education and Skills on the provision of additional supports to the three schools identified in the report. Engagement has taken place at official level and the Department of Education and Skills is positive about providing additional supports to schools in the area, including those identified in the report.

Mr Geiran further recommends exploring how to address the impact on Drogheda of the county boundaries of Louth and Meath, specifically in relation to the policing of the Laytown-Bettystown area of East Meath. Engagement has taken place with the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage in relation to this and related recommendations. This is in line with work being done in the area on boundaries, including to establish an area committee covering the relevant parts of Louth and Meath.

ENDS

Note for Editors:

A copy of the report can be viewed at the Department of Justice website at Scoping Report into Community Safety and Wellbeing in Drogheda

The report was commissioned by Minister McEntee on 21 August 2020. The goal of the exercise was to assess the impact that criminal activity in Drogheda is having on the community and make recommendations for action going forward. Over the course of the scoping exercise, Mr Geiran engaged with over 70 individuals, representing over 30 bodies in the area.

A full list of the recommendations from the report is as follows:

Drogheda Scoping Exercise Table of Recommendations

Recommendation

Cross-Agency Coordination

1

Drogheda Safety & Wellbeing: High-Level Oversight Group: Led by (i) Department of Justice and comprising senior representatives of other relevant Departments: (ii) Health; (iii) Housing, Local Government and Heritage; (iv) Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth; (v) Education; (vi) Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science; (vii) Rural and Community Development; (viii) Social Protection; and (ix) Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.

Agency representatives to be invited to meetings as required.

Quarterly Meetings to ensure strategic direction and action planning and receive reports on progress on action plan. Once the action plan is agreed, the Oversight Group might be reduced in size.

2

Safety and Wellbeing Implementation Board: The core driver and coordinator of change. With an independent chair, small support team (headed by a fulltime coordinator) and own budget (to resource the coordination itself, as well as to provide 'priming' funds to innovative projects and initiatives) - the team to be hosted, resourced supported by Louth Local Authority or Louth Leader Partnership, but located in Drogheda. Other central Government departments and local bodies to provide proportion of the funding for this as agreed).

Board comprised of senior ('decision making') representatives from relevant agencies, including, at least: (i) An Garda Síochána; (ii) Probation Service; (iii) Local Authorities; (iv) HSE; (v) TUSLA; (vi) LMETB (vii) LLP; (viii) IYJS/DoJ.

3

Four sub-groups/working groups: Policing and Drugs; Family Support, Children, Young People and Education; Employment, Business, Enterprise; Area/Community Development, Arts, Culture and Sport.

Sub/working groups to have identified chairs (some could be rotated), representatives from relevant agencies and bodies. All sub-groups to include representatives from relevant bodies in the C+V sector; sub-group (d) to include wider definition of 'community' representatives, on a rotating basis, as required. Sub-group work focus to be on agreed/clear action plans. To report in at appropriate intervals, through identified representatives, to the Implementation Board. The sub-groups could also identify new or added resourcing needs, and prepare business cases for consideration by the implementation.

Addressing Crime

1

For those involved at a very serious or 'senior' level in the drugs trade and related organised crime in the area, the current approach by AGS of targeting and disrupting their activities to be continued and resourced accordingly.

2

Implement as a matter of urgency an intensive wraparound service for vulnerable children and young people exposed to and involved in organised crime group, as well as their families, with a view to facilitating their disengagement from such criminal networks.

3

Continue - and increase, where appropriate - resourcing (e.g., staff, training, minibus/es) to the two Garda Youth Diversion Projects (CABLE and BOYNE GYDPs), to facilitate their work.

4

Ensure continuing/strengthening of community policing - particularly in the town centre and suburban areas.

5

Consider the implementation of a Joint Agency Response to Crime (JARC) project in the Drogheda area.

6

Allocate additional Probation Service resources (1-2 probation officers, as well as community service and community-based organisations, where and as needed) immediately to the Louth team, to allow adequate focus on and resourcing of responses to drug-related offending, young people involved in crime and related projects, as well as in the event of any expansion of the JARC programme, youth justice, community service and restorative justice programmes.

Consideration to be given to:

7

In spite of the constraints Proceeds of Crime legislation, explore and decide how to demonstrate to local communities in a visible and practical way that money and other resources seized from organised criminals is, in effect, used to provide funding for community and other services in the same geographical areas.

8

Explore the provision of appropriate multi-disciplinary responses (including out-of-hours) to incidents (e.g., with mental health components or factors, such as suicidal or self-harming behaviour) currently managed by 'frontline' AGS members

9

Explore how to address the previously raised and discussed issue of the impact of the county boundaries of Louth and Meath, and the corresponding delineation between Garda Districts/Divisions, specifically in relation to the policing of the Laytown-Bettystown area of East Meath.

10

Explore ways in which the timeliness of criminal justice responses to offending and offenders can be improved where possible.

11

Explore the practicality of implementing the Community Crime Impact Assessment (CCIA) process in Drogheda.

12

Explore the implementation of a 'See It. Say It' scheme in Drogheda, in relation to anti-social behaviour.

13

Continue to provide training and awareness raising in relation to the impact and implications of Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) for all relevant bodies in Drogheda.

Drug Use

1

The Red Door project should receive urgent additional funding for the provision of drugs outreach work (as a particular priority), counselling, family support, client progression pathways, Court-related and prisoner support and additional harm reduction services in the Drogheda area. Specifically, €150,000 additional for a full year, should be allocated to the Red Door, for provision of these additional services

2

Explore the possibility of utilising the Red Door facility as more of a 'one-stop-shop' for drug treatment and related services.

3

Review the State funding (approximately €7,500 p.a.) provided to the Family Addiction Network (FASN) - providing family support, especially in the context of drug-related intimidation work and wider family support for addiction-related issues.

4

Commission/carry out an urgent review of the organisation of drugs (statutory and community and voluntary) services in the Drogheda area, similar in focus - but perhaps on a smaller scale - to the Service Review of the Dundalk Addiction Services (2015) carried out by the HSE , with a view to ensuring improved effectiveness and efficiency as a matter of urgency.

5

Reinstate/continue the local Drug Court, with appropriate funding and other resourcing and formally evaluate its operation over a period of say one to two years, before deciding on its longer-term future.

6

Agencies working in the substance use field in Drogheda should look at practical ways of improving interagency cooperation, including the identification and implementation of appropriate gateways to treatment and progression routes for service users, as well as reducing or eliminating overlaps and duplication, providing joint (cross-agency) training, developing shared language and even greater cooperation on assessment and intervention methods.

7

Ensure full implementation of all appropriate harm reduction measures, as mandated by the National Drugs Strategy, including Needle and Syringe Programmes (NSP) and Naloxone, in Drogheda.

8

Explore and implement the most appropriate way of ensuring a best-practice response to drug using clients with identified dual (drugs and mental health issues) diagnosis. This could include interagency co-location of staff and joint training

9

Provide further interagency training workshops on responding to drug-related intimidation for relevant staff in statutory agencies as well as those in the community and voluntary sector.

Youth and Community Development Facilities

1

The Northside/Moneymore community hub facility should continue to be progressed, as it currently is, by LLP on behalf of all stakeholders. This facility should accommodate the provision of services currently provided by bodies forming the Moneymore Consortium, as well as providing a hub for a wider array of community services, provided by statutory as well as community and voluntary agencies.

2

It would greatly boost morale in the area if, at an appropriate point, clarification could be provided by LCC and LLP to relevant stakeholders in Moneymore/North Drogheda on the likely direction of travel and timeline for the proposed centre, as soon as practicable.

3

The relevant bodies should commence, as a priority, exploratory moves including local consultations, to provide a similar facility on the Southside of the Town, in the general Rathmullan area.

4

Progress, as a priority, the funding and development by LMETB of the sports and community changing/meeting block at DIFE (cost estimated at approximately €1 million).

5

Agree an action plan for enhancing youth and community development capacity, particularly on the South side of Drogheda

6

Generate an agreed strategic plan for the development of youth and community work and community leaders in Drogheda.

7

Include appropriate actions in relation to the training and development of local youth and community workers in this strategic plan; and specifically, education, training and career progression routes, linked to pre-university and university-level programmes, as well as incorporating 'on-the-job' training elements

8

Build on previous initiatives to increase community capacity for responding to violent critical incidents at local level.

Specific Services for Children and Young People

1

Ensure that the good work initiated and under way recently, to coordinate child protection and welfare and other children's services, is maintained and further developed, specifically through the overarching strategic and service coordination proposals recommended above.

2

An exercise has already been commenced, by LLP/CYPSC, to 'map' the services for children and young people in Drogheda. This valuable service 'audit' initiative, stalled because of Covid-19, should be re-started, prioritised and completed as a matter of urgency.

3

Urgent consideration should also be given to how the various youth services could be more coordinated and supported.

4

Ensure the completion of the review of Strengthening Families Programmes already provided and follow through as appropriate.

5

There does appear to be certain gaps in some specific service provision for young people. These include mental health and suicide prevention, among others. Ensure these are prioritised in future planning and delivery.

Education and Training

1

Due to the unique position and situation obtaining in St. Brigid's and St. Patrick's NS, St. Joseph's CBS, and Presentation NS, an increase in DEIS status - from Band 2 to 1 - should be granted to the three schools immediately, at least on an interim emergency basis, at a minimum until (a) the passing of the worst impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, and (b) improvement in the overall crime and related social situation in Drogheda, and (c) completion of any formal update review by the Department of Education. Alternatively, or at least pending the outcome of any DEIS review, it is recommended that at a minimum some alternative way to provide equivalent additional supports to these schools and their students should be found and implemented, to address the needs identified.

2

Explore the potential for more apprenticeship and pre-apprenticeship programmes in Drogheda, and specifically through DIFE.

3

Explore the potential for implementing an 'Operation Encompass' approach as part of the responding to domestic abuse and domestic violence incidents

4

Explore the potential for locating a 'branch' of DKIT in Drogheda, and also for the development of DKIT 'feeder' programmes - particularly those related to vocational and professional education and training - operating in Drogheda.

5

Continue to develop training in and application of Restorative Practice aimed at dealing with conflict and addressing issues such as school suspensions, expulsions and refusals.

Arts, Culture, Sport and Recreation

1

Develop a strategic plan for the development of opportunities in the arts, culture and sports in the Drogheda area, specifically those aimed at and involving young people

2

Explore opportunities for developing a centre of sporting excellence in Drogheda.

3

Explore potential for increased use of the Boyne river, the sea and other local amenities that could lend themselves to development of different sporting disciplines and opportunities.

4

Explore the possibility of making the Aura Leisure Centre available to the public as a community facility in the Drogheda area.

5

Consider ways in which local sporting and cultural role models can be identified and employed in initiatives in engaging young people in particular in healthy and prosocial activities and implement as appropriate.

6

Explore ways in which existing facilities in Drogheda (e.g. Lourdes Stadium, or DIFE - as described above) can be used to maximise their potential for the benefit of the local community.

Local Authority Organisation and Services

1

While central Government/Departmental oversight of the present proposals is recommended, the two Local Authorities (Louth and Meath), as well as other bodies under their auspices (such as LLP) to continue their important local coordination work and responsibilities.

2

As a matter of urgency and priority, Louth and Meath County Councils to agree an appropriate mechanism or 'vehicle' for the generation, agreement and implementation of a joint local development plan for Drogheda Town in its entirety, and including the appropriate area of East Meath, particularly the Laytown-Bettystown area of County Meath.

3

LCC to consider ways to ensure greater Council presence, visibility and engagement in Drogheda.

4

Local Authority to consider and decide on an effective way of responding to and managing anti-social behaviour by its tenants and others as appropriate.

5

Local Authority also to put in place effective ways of responding to estate management issues that can assist in addressing anti-social behaviour (e.g., closing off alleyways, cutting back or removing hedging, installing lighting or speed ramps on roads etc).

6

Local Authority to explore and implement appropriate ways of speeding up implementation of the policy and practice of dealing with social housing 'voids.'

7

Louth County Council to engage as a matter of urgency with residents of Moneymore and Castlemanor (and any other stakeholders as appropriate), with a view to closing off the offending 'gap' (referenced at Section 2.m below) and taking other measures arising; or else finding a mutually acceptable and reasonable resolution to this issue.

Local Infrastructure and Assets

1

Local Authority to clarify, for the relevant governance and oversight bodies, the potential value and specific contribution that the PANCR and other similar strategic local developments can add to the combined efforts at improving community wellbeing in Drogheda.

2

Local Authority (and others as appropriate) progress the West Gate Vision plan for Drogheda Town centre

3

Local Authority clarify what the Fáilte Ireland 'Destination Town' designation can bring to Drogheda, and how this can be progressed accordingly.

4

As part of this (3 above) establish Fáilte Ireland presence/tourist information office in the Town.

5

Local Authority (and others as appropriate) explore and clarify the potential for future use of the Dominican Church and Priory in Drogheda Town (being acquired by LCC).

6

As part of strategic planning for the development of the Town, explore ways in which to develop and promote Drogheda as a healthier and welcoming town.

Employment, Enterprise and Local Development

1

Local Authority and other relevant stakeholders - consider possibility to develop a new business and technology park on the North side of Drogheda.

2

Explore ways to develop productive links - in terms of promoting employment opportunities - with appropriate third level institutions.

3

Explore potential for enterprise initiatives and job creation in the agri-food sector

4

Consider ways to reduce the impact of crime and antisocial behavior on business and employment in the Town.

5

Explore ways to attract or facilitate at least some of the estimated 15,000 people from Drogheda who commute to other locations for work every day back to work in the Town

6

Ensure that community Garda foot patrols in the town centre and more widely are maintained

Ethnic and Racial Issues

1

All stakeholders - consider the practical implications of the recently (2020) launched Louth Meath Joint Integration Strategy and implement accordingly.

2

Explore and identify any existing or emerging issues of racial tension in the area and agree steps to deal with these.

3

Plan at oversight group level how to engage with and involve the traveller and Roma communities in the area to a greater extent than currently, to include specific actions.

4

LLP to progress actions already identified to engage and build development capacity in the traveller and Roam communities.

5

HSE and other partners - build on positive engagement made with travellers and Roma during the course of the public health response to the Covid-19 pandemic.