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. On 7th April 2017, Minister for Justice and Equality, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald TD officially closed St. Patrick’s Institution.

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

UK: Perceptions of Anti-Social Behaviour 9th March 2010

Home Office research highlights the subjective nature of perceptions of anti-social behaviour. Read more

Council of Europe: Consultation on Child-Friendly Justice 2nd March 2010

Do you know someone aged 17 or under? The Council of Europe is currently seeking the views and experiences of children and young people to feed into forthcoming guidelines on child-friendly justice. Survey closes 31st March 2010. Read more

UK: Spending public resources to imprison children is making society less safe 1st March 2010

'Punishing costs: How locking up children is making Britain less safe' is a new report from the Social Economics Foundation, which presents new results on the full cost to society of the use of prisons. It outlines a policy to change the pattern of public spending for a safer and… Read more

Irish Examiner: Drop of 64% in offence rate by youths in scheme 26th February 2010

A new one-on-one young offender management scheme shows impressive results. Read more

Irish Examiner: Jobs key to prevent prisoners reoffending 26th February 2010

Interviews with young offenders in St. Patrick's Institutions reveal their opinions on reoffending. Read more

UK: Intensive Fostering for Young Offenders 26th February 2010

A pilot scheme in the UK opts for intensive fostering for young offenders rather than prison. Read more

UK: 'Trial and Error' - Children and young people in trouble with the law 25th February 2010

'Trial and Error- Children and young people in trouble with the law' provides a guide to charities on the issue of young offenders and how charities should tackle this problem. Read more

UK: 'Out of Trouble' 25th February 2010

Prison Reform Trust campaign to drastically reduce the number of children and young people in prison. Read more

UK: Professional Dance Training for Young Offenders 24th February 2010

UK project 'Dance United' sees reduction in reoffending rates for those young people participating. Read more

Guardian: Young offenders making amends through community reparation 17th February 2010

Members of the public in the the north west of England have suggested projects that young offenders can do to make up for their misdemeanors. Read more

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