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.

Fourth Inspection Report of the Children Detention School on Oberstown Campus 30th November 2013

Inspectors found the management and staff team on Oberstown Campus provided a good overall standard of care including education and healthcare. However, concerns were voiced over how offending behaviour was addressed and the use of protection rooms in Trinity House School, particularly their suitability for containing children. Read more

Probation Service: 'Drug and Alcohol misuse among young offenders on probation supervision in Ireland' 25th October 2013

The Probation Service has launched a new research report; “Drug and Alcohol Misuse among Young Offenders on Probation Supervision in Ireland”. This report presents the findings from a national survey undertaken by the Probation Service on young offenders. Read more

Construction at Oberstown a ‘momentous’ step towards ending imprisonment of children in Ireland 14th October 2013

MEDIA ADVISORY: The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has hailed as ‘momentous’ the announcement today by Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald TD, that the construction of new national children detention facilities at Oberstown, Lusk, Co. Dublin has begun. Read more

Report published on the mental health needs of children in the care and youth justice systems 11th July 2013

The Children’s Mental Health Coalition has published a report identifying the imperative needs of children and young people in the care and youth justice systems in Ireland. Read more

Latest inspection report on Children Detention Schools published 29th May 2013

HIQA has published its latest inspection report on the three Children Detention Schools at Oberstown, Lusk, Co. Dublin. It found positive improvements, but some issues remain. Read more

Lack of detention facilities for children questioned by Children's Court Judge 12th May 2013

The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs was questioned by Ms Justice Ann Ryan, Dublin Children's Court, regarding the lack of detention facilities for children. Read more

44 young offenders on 23-hour lock up in St. Patrick’s Institution 26th March 2013

Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter TD, has disclosed that 44 young offenders, including two 17 year old boys, are locked up 23 hours a day in St. Patrick's Institution. Read more

Eng & Wales: Report published on children's experience of violence in custody 26th February 2013

The Children’s Rights Alliance for England has published a report as part of the Ending Violence against Children in Custody project, presenting findings of research carried out with children and young people with experience of custody. Read more

2011 Annual Report on Garda Diversion Programme published 21st January 2013

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Alan Shatter TD, today published the 2011 Annual Report on the effectiveness of the Garda Diversion Programme. Read more

NI:New research highlights the importance of ‘significant adults’ in the lives of children and young people in conflict with the law. 11th December 2012

In February 2012, the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People (NICCY) commissioned a study into the impact which positive relationships with ‘significant adults’ can have on the lives of children and young people in conflict with the criminal justice system. The report was published today. Read more