10th October 2018
Significant improvements on Oberstown Campus welcome but inadequate monitoring of ‘restrictive practices’ on children must be addressed – IPRT
The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) welcomes significant improvements in the care provided to children at Oberstown Children Detention Campus, particularly in the areas of healthcare, fire safety and a reduction of 56% in incidents of single separation. However, IPRT is concerned at inadequate monitoring of the use of physical interventions and restraints, including the use of handcuffing on campus. Additionally, the lack of follow up on child protection concerns and allegations of mistreatment by Gardaí is troubling; this must be addressed through improved engagement by TUSLA and other external agencies.
IPRT was responding to the publication yesterday (Tuesday 9th October 2018) by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) of its report on an unannounced inspection of Oberstown Children Detention Campus undertaken in March 2018.
The report found significant improvements in a number of areas, particularly the area of health, including medication management. Relationships between staff and children, education, and a strong emphasis on participation and consultation with children continue to be positive aspects of the care provided at Oberstown.
However, inadequate record-keeping on physical interventions used with children, and the use of handcuffs on children within a secure environment, are of significant concern to IPRT. Although there had been a welcome reduction of 56% in the use of single separation, the number of incidences remains very high at 1,701 in 2017. Efforts by Oberstown campus management to improve recording and analysis in the use of restricted practices on children must be elevated.
Responding this morning, IPRT Executive Director, Deirdre Malone said:
“The HIQA inspection report of Oberstown campus shows that real improvements can be achieved when concerted focus on an urgent issue is met with resources. The reduction in incidences of single separation and significant improvements around healthcare, and in particular medication management, is very welcome. The continued reports from children and young people of good relationships with staff is especially welcome after a period of instability and change on campus.”
“At the same time, questions must be answered about the use of handcuffs within a secure campus. All international and national guidance and best practice is clear that handcuffs should not be used within a campus except in the most exceptional cases. The safety of children and staff is of utmost importance, but clarity is needed around why it was considered necessary, whether all alternative approaches had first been exhausted, and whether it was authorised by the Campus Director.”
“The HIQA report identifies a clear need for increased engagement by external agencies, in particular TUSLA. A high percentage of children detained at Oberstown have experience of trauma and adversity, and have been failed by the State before. In this light, the lack of follow up on child protection concerns by TUSLA and An Garda Síochána and on allegations of mistreatment by Gardaí with GSOC is unacceptable. It is essential that any serious concerns raised by children or the people working with them are met with timely and comprehensive response by all agencies.”
On publication of the HIQA inspection report of Oberstown Children Detention Campus, IPRT is calling for:
Further analysis of the HIQA report is available online at www.iprt.ie
For comment, or an interview with Deirdre Malone, contact Fíona on 01 8741400 or 087 181 2990
The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) is Ireland's leading non-governmental organisation campaigning for the rights of everyone in prison and the progressive reform of Irish penal policy, with prison as a last resort.
IPRT was responding to the publication by HIQA of a report on an unannounced inspection of Oberstown Children Detention Campus in March 2018. The report is available at: https://www.hiqa.ie/system/files?file=inspectionreports/4225%2C%20Oberstown%20Children%20Detention%20Campus%2C%2007%20March%202018.pdf
HIQA inspectors assessed Oberstown against ten standards, and found:
Of particular note is the significant improvement under the health standard, including medication management, from ‘major non-compliance’ at the time of the last inspection report in March 2017 to full compliance in March 2018.