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.

Increase in funding for social inclusion measures to tackle youth crime 19th December 2014

IPRT welcomes the announcement by the Minister for Justice and Equality of an increased allocation to the Irish Youth Justice Service Community Programmes, which will see an expansion of Garda youth diversion programmes. Read more

Children's Rights Behind Bars: Report 11th December 2014

Children’s Rights Behind Bars is a collaboration between 16 European and International organisations. Its goal is to increase the respect of human rights of children deprived of liberty and improve the implementation of international juvenile justice standards to protect the rights and needs of incarcerated children. Read more

Catch22: 'Gangs in prison' report 19th November 2014

A report launched by Catch22 highlights the issues of 'Gangs in Prison' in the UK. Read more

UK: “Young Lives Behind Bars: The health and human rights of children and young people detained in the criminal justice system”, British Medical Association 31st October 2014

A report by the British Medical Association, on the medical service provision for young offenders in both custodial and communal settings in England and Wales. Read more

2013 Report on the Garda Diversion Programme 22nd March 2014

The Department of Justice and Equality has published the 'Annual Report of the Committee Appointed to Monitor the Effectiveness of the Diversion Programme 2013’. Read more

Ombudsman for Children's Office publish report on Children in Care 4th March 2014

A report by the Ombudsman for Children's Office provides an overview and analysis of the repetitive issues and their root causes regarding the provision of services for children in care. Read more

IYJS: 'Tackling Youth Crime' Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018 published 3rd February 2014

The Irish Youth Justice Service has published its action plan 'Tackling Youth Crime – Youth Justice Action Plan, 2014-2018' as a successor to its 2008 'National Youth Justice Strategy' Read more

Irish Times: 'Young offenders have the same remission rights as adults' 20th January 2014

A 17 year-old applicant, held at the children's detention school in Oberstown, has successfully challenged the constitutionality of the state's failure to provide him the same level of remission as afforded to adult offenders and juveniles held at St. Patrick's institution. Read more

Report on effectiveness of Garda Youth Diversion Programme 2012 30th December 2013

The Department of Justice and Equality has published the 'Report of the Committee to monitor the effectiveness of the Garda Diversion Programme 2012'. The report records a drop in the number of children coming to the attention of the Gardaí for a sixth year in a row Read more

UK: 'Same Old…' failures in mental health provision for young offenders 11th December 2013

UK youth organisations, The Transition to Adulthood Alliance (T2A) and Young Minds, have issued a new report on the lack of provision of mental health services to young people at risk of or engaging in offending behaviour. Read more