4th June 2020
The Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has published an annual overview of inspection and monitoring of children’s services during 2019. The overview shows that one inspection of Oberstown Children Detention Campus (‘Oberstown’) was completed in 2019.
Details on Oberstown in the annual overview are drawn from the findings of a July 2019 inspection, which were published in January 2020. See IPRT’s response to those findings here. Key points from this 2019 HIQA inspection of Oberstown, captured again in the annual overview:
New information included in the overview includes some of the information captured in the ’Amplifying children’s voices’ section. HIQA inspectors met with 12 children in detention to capture their experiences. This is a cohort whose voices are rarely heard, and IPRT hopes this qualitative engagement and capturing of lived experience will be harnessed to shape services in response to the needs of children in detention. However, while many of these experiences are positive, it is concerning that children are worried about a place to live after release from Oberstown with one child saying “not sure where I’m going to live when I’m let out – social worker is looking for a place for me”. IPRT notes that appropriate planning needs to take place well in advance of release from Oberstown. No child or young person should risk being released into homelessness or temporary accommodation.
Finally, it is of value to note that the July 2019 inspection of Oberstown was HIQA’s only inspection of Oberstown from HIQA in 2019, and it was an announced inspection. While cultural change was recognised in the report, findings of the inspection should be interpreted with caution, as a snapshot of the situation. Sustained monitoring and inspection of the situation – both announced and unannounced – would be welcomed by IPRT. It is hoped that this shift towards less restrictive practices will be sustained and noted across future inspections.
In the current context of COVID-19, those in detention are likely to be significantly impacted by restrictive measures. This is true for all detained populations, but particularly so for children due to limited peer-to-peer contact, lack of family contact and restrictions on schooling/education. HIQA should continue to monitor the ongoing situation in Oberstown, and consider focusing inspection on the use of restrictive practices throughout 2020.
Read HIQA’s annual overview report on the inspection and regulation of children’s services here.