Under Section 185 of the Children Act 2001, the Health Information and Quality Authority carried out an unannounced inspection of Oberstown Detention School over three days in June 2013 before compiling a report. The three schools cater for young people who have been committed to custody after conviction for criminal offences, but also offer places to young people on remand, and accommodate young people on remand for the purpose of assessment. They provide care and education to boys (Trinity House School and Oberstown Boys School) and girls (Oberstown Girls School).
During the inspection, there were 36 young people resident across the three schools. Inspectors’ judgments are based on evidence verified from several sources gathered through direct observation, inspection of accommodation, interviews across the three schools and examination of records and documentation. Overall inspectors found that the management and staff team provided a good standard of care and this was the experience articulated clearly by young people when interviewed by inspectors. Inspectors found that the children were in a safe environment with a good standard of healthcare. Young people told inspectors that their attendance in education had significantly improved since they came to the detention school and a range of extracurricular activities were available.
Dealing with offending behaviour within the school was the sole practice that did not meet or partially meet the required standard. A comprehensive dealing-with-offending-behaviour programme was in place but it was not being implemented due to staffing issues. An individual crisis management plan was in place for some young people which addressed aspects of offending behaviour. However, in many cases there was no individual crisis management plan on file that addressed offending behaviour. There was no routine mechanism in place to evaluate the effectiveness of individual and general offending behaviour programmes in order to ensure that the school succeeds in its aim to rehabilitate young people and therefore lower or prevent rates of re-offending behaviour.
Summary of Key Recommendations
1. Oberstown Detention School should review the use of the protection rooms in Trinity House School to determine their suitability for containing children. Single separation should occur strictly in line with school policy and each episode is comprehensively recorded.
2. Oberstown Detention School should ensure that when a young person is placed in the protection room that their next of kin and an independent advocate for the young person is informed.
3. Oberstown Detention School should further develop contact with the Health Service Executive and the Probation Service to ensure continuity of support for young people in preparation for and after leaving the school.
4. Oberstown Detention School in consultation with the Irish Youth Justice Service should establish a means whereby the offending behaviour programme can be formally evaluated and regularly monitored.