New data published by Oberstown Children Detention Centre provides an overview of the characteristics of young people in detention in Ireland during the first quarter of 2018 (1 January – 31 March). The data is aimed at providing a better understanding of the challenges faced by young people in conflict with the law, and to inform services and interventions to assist such young people. As well as offering insights into offending and sentencing, the data highlights the level of adversity and trauma young people have experienced, including neglect and abuse, high levels of substance misuse and disengagement from the education system.
During Q1 2018, a total of 92 young people were on the Oberstown Children Detention Campus. Of these 92 young people, 52 were on detention orders and 40 were on remand orders. Of the 40 young people on remand orders: 35 young people were on remand for up to 61 days; and 5 young people were on remand for between 100 and 183 days. IPRT is particularly concerned about the number of young people held on remand and urges the judiciary to examine these statistics.
Of the young people in detention in Q1 2018: 2 were 14 years of age upon their most recent admission; 16 were 15 years of age upon their most recent admission; 38 were 16 years of age upon their most recent admission; and 36 were 17 years of age upon their most recent admission. Twenty-eight young people came from the Dublin area, with the next biggest cohorts coming from Cork (15), Meath (7), Limerick (6), Galway (6), Louth (6) and Cavan (5). Of the 92 young people in Oberstown, 65 were Irish, 20 were Irish Travellers or from a Travelling background, (i.e. settled); 5 were EU nationals, and 2 were of African ethnicity.
In Q1 2018, 40% of young people were either in care or had significant involvement with Tusla prior to detention. Of the 26 young people in care, 13 had been in three or more care placements; 20 had mental health needs, 2 had a Guardian Ad Litem; 9 had child protection concerns; and 17 exhibited challenging behaviour. Relevant to these findings is IPRT’s ongoing research project on the over-representation of children in care or with care experience in the criminal justice system. This research is being carried out by Dr Nicola Carr (University of Nottingham) and Dr Paula Mayock (Trinity College Dublin) and will be published in late 2018.
In Q1 2018, 52% of young people in detention had a mental health need. Of the 48 young people with a mental health need:
- 35 had been involved with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) at one stage of their lives.
- 25 were referred to the National Forensic Mental Health Service (NFMHS) or Assessment Consultation Therapy Services (ACTS) while in Oberstown.
- 20 had been in care, and a further 3 had significant involvement with Tusla.
- 10 were classified as having child protection concerns.
- 8 were on medication, and a further 16 previously had been.
In addition, 72% of young people were considered to have substance misuse problems. Of the 66 young people who had drug and/or alcohol problems: 38 were identified as having a mental health problem; 23 were in care; 34 exhibited challenging behaviour; and 17 had self-harm concerns.
Furthermore, 49% of young people were not engaged in education prior to detention; 20% of young people had a diagnosed learning disability; and 47% of young people in detention demonstrated challenging behaviour either in the past, in Oberstown, or both. This data also reflects the recent work of IPRT. In February 2018, IPRT made a written submission to the Joint Committee on Education and Skills on ‘Education Inequality and Disadvantage’ highlighting the link between educational disadvantage and the penal system.
‘Key characteristics of young people in detention: A snapshot (Q1, 2018)’ is available here.