Youth Justice

Artane Industrial School

Ireland has a long history of poor responses to offending behaviour by children. A core strand to IPRT's work since its establishment in 1994 has been the promotion of a more effective youth justice system, with emphasis on non-custodial alternatives, diversion, early intervention and prevention strategies and programmes. Central to our work was ending the practice of detaining children in adult prisons, which was in breach of international human rights standards and a serious stain on Ireland's human rights record.

International human rights standards, and in particular the provisions of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, are clear that custody for children should only be used as a last resort and for the minimum required period of time. 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 makes provision for all children less than 18 years of age to be detained in Children Detention Schools. The detention school model is focused on a model of care, education, health and programmes that address offending, with improved outcomes for the young people, their communities and all of society. The Irish Youth Justice Service is responsible for the Children Detention Schools, within the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Following years of sustained advocacy by IPRT, along with many national and international bodies, in 2012 the detention of boys aged under 17 at St Patrick's Institution ended. In March 2017, a Ministerial Order ended the sentencing of children aged under 18 to adult prison in Ireland, and in April 2017, St. Patrick’s Institution was finally closed. Since September 2017 boys aged under 18 are no longer detained in the adult prison system.

IPRT continues to work towards progressive change in youth justice policies and practice, as well as engaging with wider policy and practice issues relating to youth justice, such as the provision of alternatives to detention, diversion and early intervention programmes. 

Oberstown 2018 sml

HIQA Publish Report on Oberstown Children Campus 3rd August 2017

The Health Information and Quality Authority published a detailed report of an inspection of Oberstown Children Detention Campus which was carried out from the 27th - 30th March 2017. Read more

More regular inspections needed during “turbulent transition” at Oberstown – IPRT 3rd August 2017

IPRT welcomes the publication by the Health Information and Quality Authority of its comprehensive and detailed report on an unannounced inspection of Oberstown Children Detention Campus, conducted 27 March 2017. IPRT also welcomes the Action Plan by Oberstown management in response to identified issues. Read more

UK: The Howard League for Penal Reform and the Transition to Adulthood (T2A), 'Judging Maturity: exploring the role of maturity in the sentencing of young adults' 18th July 2017

A new Report by The Howard League for Penal Reform and the Transition to Adulthood (T2A) Alliance calls on sentencing council to work towards developing formal sentencing principles for young adults, similar to the principles that are already in place for sentencing children. Read more

The Howard League for Penal Reform: Ending the Criminalisation of Children in Care, Briefing One 12th July 2017

The Howard League for Penal Reform have released a brief, the first of a series to be published as part of a two-year programme to end the criminalisation of children living in residential care. Read more

Progress at Oberstown 29th May 2017

On Monday 29th May 2017, an event titled ‘Building the Future’ took place in the Smock Alley Theatre in Dublin to mark Oberstown Children Detention Campus’ first anniversary as a combined care, health and educational facility. Read more

The Irish Times: Grim chapter in criminal justice ends as St Patrick’s closes 7th April 2017

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

Closure of St. Patrick’s Institution 7th April 2017

Today, Friday 7th April 2017, Minister for Justice and Equality, Tánaiste Frances Fitzgerald TD has closed St. Patrick’s Institution. Read more

Le Chéile Evaluation: 'Reducing Youth Crime in Ireland' 30th March 2017

Young people who have fallen into crime reduce re-offending by 28% on average over the period of mentoring, a major evaluation report into the Le Chéile programme ‘Reducing Youth Crime in Ireland’ has revealed. Read more

Ministerial Order to end sentencing of children to adult prison “momentous” 30th March 2017

IPRT has hailed as “momentous” the signing of a Ministerial Order today (Thursday 30th March 2017) by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD to end the sentencing of children to adult prison in Ireland. Read more

Cabinet approves Ministerial Order to end imprisonment of children 29th March 2017

IPRT strongly welcomes the announcement by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone that she has secured cabinet approval towards ending the sentencing of children to Wheatfield Place of Detention. Read more

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