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.

U R Boss: new youth justice project from Howard League 3rd December 2009 YouTube

U R Boss is a ground breaking youth justice project in the UK that provides an enhanced legal service shaped by and for young people in custody and those recently released into the community. Read more

Launch of IPRT report on Detention of Children 30th November 2009

IPRT launched a new research report, 'Detention of Children in Ireland: International Standards and Best Practice' on 30th November 2009 at Pearse Street Library, Dublin 2. Read more

Ireland's Youth Justice in Action Solidarity Day: June 2009 20th November 2009 YouTube

Ireland's Youth Justice in Action Solidarity Day took place 17th June 2009. As part of their activities, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform was questioned on the continuing detention of 16 year olds in St Patrick's Institution. Read more

Report highlights concerns over care for asylum seeking children. 19th November 2009

A report by the Ombudsman for Children, Emily Logan, highlights the inadequate service provision of care for asylum seeking children. Read more

Young offenders in custody provided with an opportunity to influence UK Crime Policy. 19th November 2009

A project designed to provide an opportunity for young people in custody to influence government policy on juvenile justice will be launched next week. Read more

Guardian: Putting victims at the heart of justice 2nd November 2009

In today's Guardian, Juliet Lyon details restorative justice schemes: "Growing the adult prison population of the future, rather than acting to put things right, does little or nothing to prevent the next victim of crime." Read more

NI: Restorative Justice Scheme more effective than custodial sanctions. 29th October 2009

The Prison Reform Trust has found that the Northern Ireland Restorative Justice Scheme has been more effective at changing behaviour among young offenders than custodial sanctions. Read more

Working Group on Children's Rights Standards for the National Children Detention Centre at Oberstown, Lusk, Co. Dublin 8th October 2009 PDF documents

The Working Group on Children's Rights Standards for the National Children Detention Centre at Oberstown recommendations were from a consultation process with a range of stakeholders within and outside the criminal justice system in 2008. Read more

Irish Times: Scheme sees drop in reoffenders 25th September 2009

A new scheme to manage hardened young offenders has seen a near two-thirds drop in reoffending levels, as reported in the Irish Times. Read more

Standards for the Inspection of Prisons in Ireland - Juvenile Supplement 18th September 2009 PDF documents

This document is a supplement to the 'Standards for the Inspection of Prisons in Ireland' which Judge Michael Reilly published on 24th July 2009. Read more