There was an 11 per cent increase in the number of children from Louth referred to the Garda Diversion Programme for crimes including begging, theft from the person, homicide and sexual offences increased last year - new figures have revealed.
This was the largest percentage increase in any county in 2012.
Despite a drop in referrals across the State, three counties saw increases: Southern Dublin Metropolitan Region (1 per cent), and Kerry (9 per cent), while Wicklow saw no change in figures from 2011, while Louth had an 11 per cent increse.
There has been a decrease in the State every year for six years.
Overall, some 12,246 children involved in a total of 24,069 offences were referred to the scheme in 2012, down by 536 compared to 2011. Figures for Louth have not yet been collated for 2013.
The top three offence categories for which under 18s were referred to the Garda programme in 2012 were public order and social code offences (6,976 or 29 per cent), theft and related offences (5,996 or 25 per cent) and damage to property and the environment (2,511 or 10 per cent). These offence categories percentages are almost identical with the year before.