A NEW York-style ‘community court’ designed to deal with low-level crime is to be set up in Dublin.
The Cabinet approved a pilot scheme for the court in a bid to drastically slash the backlog of cases waiting to be heard.
The new court could see low-level criminal suspects appear in front of a special judge just hours after their alleged offences are committed.
The system, which will be piloted in Dublin city centre, is designed to provide a “one-stop shop” aimed at criminals guilty of thefts, public order offences and anti-social behaviour.
It is hoped that the court could see offenders being arrested, convicted and sent for community service in the space of 48 hours.
Justice Minister Alan Shatter yesterday received cabinet approval for the creation of the pilot scheme in the capital.
Dublin-based minister for State Joe Costello announced the decision on Mr Shatter’s behalf in the Seanad.
The pilot scheme was proposed by Fine Gael senator Martin Conway and has been met with significant support by TDs and senators.
Gardai also are likely to welcome the move. Garda sources insist that officers are frustrated by the lengthy time it takes for low-level criminals to be brought in front of a judge.
The proposals would see offenders appear in front of a judge the day after their arrest.
If they plead guilty, they will then be sent to a probation officer based in the same facility, who will assign them a course of community service.
The offender’s file will be reviewed by a judge six months later to determine if he or she has committed an offence since.
Members of the Oireachtas Justice Committee recently visited a community court in Manhattan in order to examine the system in action.