Heavier sentences to be introduced for gangsters using children to commit crimes

Gangland figures and others using children to commit crimes will face up to five years in prison under new legislation being introduced by the Government.

The move comes after a wide range of research has emerged over the last decade about the involvement of children in very serious crime, often being used by senior gang members insulating themselves against conviction.

In many cases senior gangland figures in the Republic have recruited children in their family network into gang activities and when they became established they were often used to recruit other children from the same areas.

While legislation already in place allows for criminals using children who commit crime to face conviction themselves for those offences, the new measures due to be announced on Friday by Minister for Justice Helen McEntee go further.

The Criminal Justice (Exploitation of Children in the Commission of Offences) Bill makes it a criminal offence for an adult to “compel or coerce, or induce or invite, a child to engage in criminal activity”.

Anyone found guilty of the new offences could be jailed for up to 12 months on summary conviction and for up to five years on indictment, though the child would not face prosecution.

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