The Children's Rights Alliance (CRA) has today published its Report Card for 2015. This annual report analyses and assesses the government's performance in addressing and fulfilling their stated commitments for children in the Programme for Government. Of particular interest to IPRT is the section on Children in Detention, which received detailed scrutiny in the published Report Card for this year.
The CRA reports that since July 2012, all 16 year olds have been detained in the Oberstown campus, and since December 2013, all 17 year olds serving a custodial sentence have been moved from St. Patrick's Institution to a dedicated unit in Wheatfield Place of Detention until the completion of the new facility in Oberstown. However, it is imperative that further progress is made in this regard and that the new facility at Oberstown assumes full custody of all children detained in the criminal justice system.
As of the 24th of February 2015, there are three children in detention in St. Patrick's Institution and it is hoped that the government will fully end the practice of detention of children in adult prisons by transferring all 17 year olds to the new, integrated, National Children Detention Facility at the Oberstown Campus, Co. Dublin.
The CRA also draw attention to the inappropriate overuse of detention on remand for children, indicated by figures which show that only 27% of those detained on remand in 2014 were subsequently sentenced to detention on conviction.
Similarly, the Report Card analyses the worrying use of remand of children in custody on welfare grounds, as opposed to being used solely as a measure of last resort.
IPRT echoes calls by the CRA for continued and sustained progress in order to ensure that the rights of children who come in contact with the criminal justice system are vindicated.
There are some important progress reports of note to IPRT highlighted by the CRA in their Report:
- While progress is being made, it is concerning that children continued to be detained (3 on remand in St. Patrick's and 12 serving a sentence in Wheatfield) in the adult prison system in the first quarter of 2015;
- The Children's Rights Alliance note that the government has committed to transferring responsibility for all 17 year old males to the Oberstown campus by end of quarter two of 2015;
- The transfer of sentenced children to a new interim facility at Wheatfield Place of Detention must be a 'temporary, short-term measure';
- It would be a positive step for the government to carry out a review of the use of remand for children so as to ensure that it is used appropriately, and that children are not being held on remand for welfare concerns.
You can read the full text of the Report Card for 2015 here.