File photo: Naas courthouse
The number of cases referred to the Probation Services in Kildare has increased by 40% since 2015.
The figures, provided in the annual reports, show that the number of cases referred to Kildare increased dramatically in 2017.
The Probation Service is an agency within the Department of Justice and Equality. It plays an important role in helping to reduce the level of crime and to increase public safety by working with offenders to help change their behaviour and make good the harm done by crime.
It is the lead agency in the assessment and management of offenders in our community.
The Probation Service’s Kildare team takes referrals from all court sittings in Kildare. There are seven probation officers allocated to Kildare.
These are Naas District Court, Athy District Court and Kilcock District Court.
The number of cases referred to the Probation Service for Kildare have increased from 101 in 2015, to 108 in 2016 and 141 in 2017 for the three district courts.
The mounting pressure on the service in Kildare has been noted in open court by District Court Judge Desmond Zaidan on numerous occasions, prompting the Leader to enquire about staff resources for Kildare.
According to a statement, the Probation Service records, a rostered court duty presence was absent on three occasions over the past two years.
The statement added, however, that it is not aware that the service is not meeting the demands of the court or of any backlogs in refferals.
“Records also indicate that the Probation Service is meeting the demands of the courts and it is not aware of any backlog in referrals at this time.”
The Kildare team office is located on an interim basis in Portlaoise.
The team will move in the coming months to its new base on Eyre Street, Newbridge, which is the site of a former office of the Department of Social Protection that is currently being refurbished by the OPW for the Probation Service.
“The workload of a Probation Officer tends to range from 30 - 50 cases at any given time with the number of cases being dependant on the type of case being supervised,” the statement said.
“The Probation Service is the lead agency in the assessment and management of offenders in our communities. It has a national remit with services delivered locally by staff based in 35 community-based offices and in 12 prisons across the country. It provides a range of effective sentencing options to the courts, at all levels nationwide.
The Probation Service continually works to prioritise its workload and to allocate resources to maximise its efficiency and effectiveness in the delivery of its services.”
The Kildare Probation Service one of five geographical regions comes under the remit of the Midland’s South East Region.
The region coveres eight counties including Kildare, Waterford, Wexford, Carlow, Laois, Offaly, Kilkenny and Tipperary.
There are 54 staff in the Midlands South East Region (including Clerical Officers and Community Service Supervisors), which includes 7 staff assigned to the Kildare Team.
Last month the Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan TD, published the Annual Reports of the Probation Service and Irish Prison Service together with the Joint Irish Prison Service / Probation Service Strategic Plan 2018-2020, and the Probation Service Strategic Plan 2018-2020.
Welcoming the plans, the Minister said that the goal of the service is to help to create a safer, fairer and more inclusive Ireland. “Making our streets, homes, businesses and communities more secure.”