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.

Irish Examiner: Teens being ‘criminalised’ while in care of the State 7th March 2016

Writing in the Irish Examiner, Jennifer Hough reports that Ireland's "most troubled teenagers are being criminalised while in the care of the State — arrested in the secure therapeutic centres aiming to stabilise and rehabilitate them." Read more

UNCRC raise a number of concerns on Youth Justice in Ireland 4th February 2016

Following their recent examination of Ireland's compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child, the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child have released their 'Concluding Observations on the Combined Third and Fourth Periodic Reports of Ireland'. Read more

Youth justice issues at UNCRC 15th January 2016

Ireland is being examined at the UN in respect of its compliance with the Convention on the Rights of the Child. IPRT's formal submissions were included as part of the Children’s Rights Alliance Parallel Report. Read more

Legislation to close St Patrick's passes all stages in Oireachtas 16th December 2015

IPRT celebrates the completion of all stages of the Prisons Bill 2015 in the Oireachtas, a critical final step on the long path ending the practice of detaining children in St Patrick's Institution. Read more

HIQA follow-up inspection at Oberstown Children Detention Campus 23rd October 2015

HIQA releases report on a follow-up inspection of Oberstown Children Detention Campus. Read more

UK Report: Report into the deaths of young people in custody 20th October 2015

A report entitled “Changing Prisons, Saving Lives Report of the Independent Review into Self-inflicted Deaths in Custody of 18-24 year olds” published in July 2015 examines in detail the lives of 87 young people (four children and 83 young adults aged from 18 to 24) who died between April 2007… Read more

IPRT welcomes passing of Children (Amendment) Bill 2015 21st July 2015

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) welcomes the passage today of the Children (Amendment) Bill 2015 as another important step towards ending the detention of children in adult prisons in Ireland. Read more

UK: Helping young people leaving custody 2nd July 2015

Beyond Youth Custody Programme (UK) has released a new report which exemplifies how re-offending rates remain high due to lack of support for helping young people get their lives back on track. Read more

IPRT welcomes extension of youth diversion projects and initiatives 15th May 2015

IPRT welcomes two announcements in the area of youth justice this week by Minister for Justice and Equality Frances Fitzgerald TD. Read more

Turnaround Youth: Young Adults (18-24) in the Criminal Justice System 12th May 2015

This IPRT report presents the case for the differential treatment of young adults aged 18-24 who come in contact with the criminal justice system, and is grounded in emerging evidence, best practice, and informed by input from young people with experience of the issues. Read more

Learn more