IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

Join Donate

Get News Updates:

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: 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

Guardian: Where's the victim support for troubled perpetrators? 17th February 2010

A Guardian article highlights the familiar story that many young offenders are themselves victims. Read more

The Irish Times: Youth Crime 1st February 2010

At last, measures to supervise and rehabilitate troubled juveniles within their own communities and keep them out of prison are having a measurable effect. Read more

NY Times: 'City Signals Intent to Put Fewer Teenagers in Jail' 20th January 2010

The mayor's office has announced plans to merge the city’s Department of Juvenile Justice into its child welfare agency. This signals a "more therapeutic approach toward delinquency" that will see fewer young offenders sent to prison. Read more

NYCI: Working With Young People Involved in the Juvenile Justice System 14th December 2009

A useful resource created for those working with children, with special attention given to those children in conflict with the law. Read more

UK: 'Healthy Children, Safer Communities' 8th December 2009

A new cross-government strategy to promote the health and well-being of children and young people in contact with the youth justice system. Read more