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.

Report published on the implementation of National Youth Justice Strategy 2008-2010 31st October 2012

This month, the Irish Youth Justice Service published its report on the progress made in implementing the National Youth Justice Strategy 2008-2010. Read more

Inspection report on Children Detention Schools at Oberstown 10th October 2012

HIQA report published on the inspection carried out on the Children Detention Schools at the Oberstown Campus in November 2011. Read more

Inquiry on girls: From courts to custody (UK) 20th August 2012

Report by Howard League for Penal Reform suggests girls are 'pigeon-holed into a criminal justice system designed for the male majority'. Read more

Progress in ending detention of children in St. Patrick's Institution as final 16 year old released, but uncertainty remains for 17 year olds 6th August 2012

Historic moment as the final 16 year old boy is released from St Patrick's Institution, but thirty-one 17 year old boys remain. Read more

IPRT Briefing: Detention of Children in St. Patrick's Institution (updated) 18th July 2012 PDF documents

A short document outlining IPRT's position on the ongoing detention of children in St. Patrick's Institution, together with information on the conditions, the issues and three key recommendations. Read more

Ombudsman for Children's complaints remit extended to children in St Patrick's Institution 25th June 2012

IPRT welcomes the extension of the remit of the Ombudsman for Children to receive individual complaints from children held in St Patrick's Institution. Read more

UK: Pathways to Crime Report 5th June 2012

The T2A Alliance has issued a report identifying ten stages within the criminal justice process which could provide a more effective and rigorous approach for young people, between the ages of 16-24, in their transition to adulthood. Read more

UNESCO: Reviewing the Provision of Education for Young People in Detention 31st May 2012

The UNESCO Children and Youth Programme investigates current issues regarding access to education in child detention in a new report. Read more

Roundup: Reactions to announcement that detention of children in St Patrick's is to end 4th April 2012

Following more than 25 years of commitments by successive governments but little action, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs yesterday announced concrete plans on bringing to an end the practice of detaining children in St Patrick's Instn, which is an adult prison. Read more

IPRT hails Government’s action on ending detention of children in St Patrick’s Institution as “historic” 2nd April 2012

MEDIA ADVISORY: The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has hailed as “historic” the announcement today by Minister for Children, Frances Fitzgerald, that capital funding of €50m is to be made available for the building of the first phase of the National Children Detention Facility at Oberstown in Lusk, and that… Read more