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.

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

thejournal.ie: Child offenders will no longer be detained in adult prisons 29th March 2017

On Tuesday 28th March 2017, Cabinet agreed to end the sentencing of children to adult prisons. Read more

UK: Sentencing Council publishes new guidelines on sentencing children and young people and offenders who plead guilty 7th March 2017

The Sentencing Council (England & Wales) has published two new sentencing guidelines, to come into effect from 1st June 2017. One deals with how courts should make a reduction in sentence for offenders who plead guilty, and the other deals with the approach they should take when sentencing children and… Read more

2015 Report on the Garda Diversion Programme 25th January 2017

The Department of Justice and Equality has published the 'The Annual Report of the Committee Appointed to Monitor the Effectiveness of the Diversion Programme 2015'. Read more

UK: Review of the Youth Justice System in England and Wales 22nd December 2016

The Ministry of Justice has just published a comprehensive review of the Youth Justice System in England and Wales. Published in December 2016, the report outlines key issues and challenges within the system and a change in approach towards youth justice in the UK, moving away from punitive responses and… Read more

Progress Report on Youth Justice Action Plan published 21st December 2016

On 14th December 2016, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD and the Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton TD published Tackling Youth Crime, Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018 - Progress Report 2014/2015. Read more

Detention of Children: International Standards and Best Practice 20th December 2016 PDF documents

A research report from IPRT on the application and implementation of international human rights standards to children detention in Ireland, and how the aims enshrined in these standards can be best achieved in the Irish context. Read more

Beyond Youth Custody: Trauma and Young Offenders 30th November 2016

The recent ‘Trauma and Young Offenders’ report from Beyond Youth Custody (BYC) presents key findings from a review of the research and literature concerning trauma in the backgrounds of young people who offend. Read more

Round Up: Oberstown Review 19th September 2016

A round-up of IPRT statements and comments in the media on the announcement of a review of Oberstown Children Detention Campus by Minister for Children and Youth Affairs Katherine Zappone. Read more