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.

Young People on Remand: Report 28th November 2008

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs published a major report into the situation of young people on remand in November 2008. Read more

National Youth Justice Strategy 31st March 2008

The National Youth Justice Strategy 2008-2010 was launched in March 2008. Read more

Anti-Social Behaviour Orders 31st December 2006 PDF documents

This report gives a detailed overview of Anti-Social Behaviour Orders (ASBOs) which were introduced in England and Wales by the Crime and Disorder Act 1998, and have been available since April 1999. Read more

Garda Youth Diversion Project Guidelines 31st December 2006 PDF documents

The evaluation report on the Garda Youth Diversion Projects, which suggests that a set of guidelines are required to develop a planned and strategic approach for the prevention of juvenile crime. Read more

Lost in Transition: Barrow Cadbury Commission on Young Adults and the Criminal Justice System 30th September 2005 PDF documents

A report of the independent Commission on Young Adults and the Criminal Justice System, established by the Barrow Cadbury Trust. Read more

Report of the Youth Justice Review 31st July 2005 PDF documents

This summary report delves into the Youth Justice Programme and lays out the weaknesses and strengths of the system. The report includes future proposals. Read more

HIV/AIDS in Youth Custody Settings: A Comprehensive Strategy 18th June 1996 PDF documents

This report calls for comprehensive education as the first step to preventing HIV infection in young offenders. Read more

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