IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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Youth Justice

Artane Industrial School

In accordance with international human rights standards, and in particular in line with the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, custody for children should only be used as a last resort and for the minimum required period of time. International law stipulates that all efforts should be made to apply alternatives to detention to ensure that such a measure is only used in exceptional circumstances.

In Ireland, the Children Act 2001 recognizes the principle of detention as a last resort. The Act prohibits the imprisonment of children and the Criminal Justice Act 2006 amends the 2001 Act to make provision for all children less than 18 years of age to be detained in Children Detention Schools under the auspices of the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. In 2007, responsibility for existing Children Detention Schools was transferred to the Irish Youth Justice Service, which, in turn, transferred to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs at the end of 2011.

A vital part of  IPRT's work has been to remove children over 16 years from St Patrick’s Institution, part of the prison system. The practice of detention of boys between 16 and 18 years of age in St. Patrick’s institution has been criticised by national and international organisations on a continuous basis.

In 2012, following years of sustained advocacy by many organisations, including IPRT, along with national and international bodies, the detention of boys aged under 17 at St Patrick's Insitution ended, with a commitment to end the detention of 17 year old boys in the prison by 2014.

We continue to work towards the change in this policy, and continue to engage in wider policy and practice issues relating to youth justice, such as provision of alternatives to detention, diversion and early intervention programs.

HIQA inspection report of Oberstown children detention school campus 25th February 2015

IPRT welcomes the publication by HIQA of its reports on two inspections of the Oberstown children detention school campus, which took place 28-30 October and 4 November 2014. The inspection reports were published alongside an Action Plan, which includes details on actions already taken to address issues of concern. Read more

The Children's Rights Alliance Report Card 2015 23rd February 2015

The Children's Rights Alliance (CRA) have published their Report Card for 2015, which analyses and assesses the government's performance in addressing and fulfilling their stated commitments for children in the Programme for Government. Read more

Le Chéile’s Restorative Justice Project in Limerick 28th January 2015

Evaluation of Le Chéile’s Restorative Justice Project in Limerick reveals returns of nearly €3 for every €1 invested. Read more

Increase in funding for social inclusion measures to tackle youth crime 19th December 2014

IPRT welcomes the announcement by the Minister for Justice and Equality of an increased allocation to the Irish Youth Justice Service Community Programmes, which will see an expansion of Garda youth diversion programmes. Read more

Children's Rights Behind Bars: Report 11th December 2014

Children’s Rights Behind Bars is a collaboration between 16 European and International organisations. Its goal is to increase the respect of human rights of children deprived of liberty and improve the implementation of international juvenile justice standards to protect the rights and needs of incarcerated children. Read more

Catch22: 'Gangs in prison' report 19th November 2014

A report launched by Catch22 highlights the issues of 'Gangs in Prison' in the UK. Read more

Ombudsman for Children's Office publish report on Children in Care 4th March 2014

A report by the Ombudsman for Children's Office provides an overview and analysis of the repetitive issues and their root causes regarding the provision of services for children in care. Read more

IYJS: 'Tackling Youth Crime' Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018 published 3rd February 2014

The Irish Youth Justice Service has published its action plan 'Tackling Youth Crime – Youth Justice Action Plan, 2014-2018' as a successor to its 2008 'National Youth Justice Strategy' Read more

Irish Times: 'Young offenders have the same remission rights as adults' 20th January 2014

A 17 year-old applicant, held at the children's detention school in Oberstown, has successfully challenged the constitutionality of the state's failure to provide him the same level of remission as afforded to adult offenders and juveniles held at St. Patrick's institution. Read more

Report on effectiveness of Garda Youth Diversion Programme 2012 30th December 2013

The Department of Justice and Equality has published the 'Report of the Committee to monitor the effectiveness of the Garda Diversion Programme 2012'. The report records a drop in the number of children coming to the attention of the Gardaí for a sixth year in a row Read more

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