Irish Penal Reform Trust

Launch of IPRT Children Detention report

30th November 2009

New report aims to inform best practice in the detention of children in conflict with the law.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust will today launch a new report: Detention of Children in Ireland: International Standards and Best Practice, outlining the legal framework, policies and practices regarding the use of custodial measures for children in Ireland and internationally.

Detention of children is usually an expensive and damaging process, and should only be used as a last resort – a principle enshrined in the Children Act 2001. However, when it is deemed necessary, Detention of Children in Ireland: International Standards and Best Practice outlines the wealth of guidance that can be used to ensure that detention has constructive benefits.

While the report details much good practice in the Children Detention Schools in Ireland, it highlights serious concerns including the continued imprisonment of children in St Patrick’s Institution, a practice which is in breach of international human rights standards.

In particular, the use of separation of children for reasons of protection in St Patrick’s Institution, which can involve up to 23-hours lock up, is a very serious concern. The Inspector of Prisons noted in 2009 that 25% of the juvenile population in St Patrick’s are on protection, fearing for their own safety.

The report finds that, in general, there are many areas of good practice within the Child Detention School system. Recent inspection reports by the Health Information and Quality Authority document that children feel they have good relationships with staff; that they are listened to; and their contact with families and communities outside is encouraged.

However, there are also areas in which important improvements can be made. IPRT is very concerned about what appears to be high levels of the use of single separation in Children Detention Schools for reasons of discipline, and shortcomings in child protection procedures and staff vetting.

Speaking today, Dr Ursula Kilkelly, Chairperson of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, said “the international standards must be implemented now to ensure that the detention of all children in Ireland is rights-compliant. This is in the interests of children, their families, their communities, and wider society. Furthermore, where compliance is not achieved, the standards may be taken into account in legal action against the state.”

Detention of Children: International Standards and Best Practice was funded by the Irish Youth Foundation. The report will be launched on Monday 30th November 2009 at 3.30pm in Pearse Street Library, Dublin 2.

For all media enquiries, or to arrange an interview with speakers, please contact:
Fíona Ní Chinnéide,
Campaigns & Communications Officer
Irish Penal Reform Trust

T: + 353 1 874 1400 E:


Detention of Children in Ireland: International Standards and Best Practice

Irish Penal Reform Trust (November 2009), ISBN: 978-0-9535531-8-1

Launch of report

The report will be launched on Monday 30th November 2009 at 3.30pm in Pearse Street Library, Dublin 2. Speakers at the event include Dr Ursula Kilkelly, Chairperson of IPRT; Agnieszka Martynowicz, IPRT Research & Policy Officer; and Mat Crozier, a youth worker working for Include Youth for the past 5 years on the Young Voices Project. Young Voices engages and consults with young people resident in Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre, Hydebank Wood Young Offenders Centre as well young people outside of custody.

Detention of children in St Patrick’s Institution

International rights monitoring bodies have consistently recommended the removal of children from St Patrick’s Institution, which is an inappropriate environment for children. When the new National Children Detention Facility is built in Lusk, County Dublin, the 16 and 17 year olds will be transferred there. However, this is unlikely to occur before 2012.

Behind Bars No Place for a Child

Analysis piece by Dr Ursula Kilkelly, Chairperson of IPRT, in the Irish Examiner. See:

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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