Irish Penal Reform Trust

Joint Submission to the Operational Review of Oberstown Detention Campus

31st May 2019

In December 2016, IPRT welcomed the opportunity to make a submission alongside Barnardos, Children’s Rights Alliance, EPIC and the Jesuit Centre for Faith and Justice to the Operational Review of Oberstown. The submission outlines key operational issues from a children’s rights’ perspective. The submission outlined issues under 15 headings, including:

  • Procedures for Admission, Orientation and Induction
  • Personal and Social Development of Children
  • Disciplinary Sanctions
  • Complaints System
  • Staff Training and Relationships
  • Publication of Data
  • Principle of Detention as a Last Resort

We believe that taking measures to address a number of issues – including, inter alia, reduction in the use of detention on remand, separation of those on remand, increased provision of meaningful activity, ensuring consistency and flexibility in rules and regulations, and provision of adequate training and supports for staff – will contribute to a safer and more positive environment on Campus for young people detained and for the dedicated staff who work with them.

Although the recommendations arising from the review were published in 2017, the Operational Review report has not been made public. Various reasons have been given for the non-publication of the report, including “the passage of time”. Independent external oversight forms a crucial role in the protection of human rights and the prevention of ill treatment in places where anyone is detained, but particularly children. IPRT has repeatedly called for the publication of the report to ensure full accountability.

The Committee for Children and Youth Affairs discussed the non-publication of the operational review report on the Oberstown Children Detention Campus in January 2019, hearing from the authors of the report Prof Nick Hardwick and Prof Barry Goldson as well as the Chairperson of the Board of Management of Oberstown, Prof Ursula Kilkelly. The discussion is available on the Oireachtas website here.

The Joint Submission to the Operational Review of Oberstown Detention Campus is available here.

(While IPRT has taken care to reflect and incorporate the views of all five organisations, there may be unintended omissions. Any errors in the submission are the responsibility of IPRT. This submission presents issues at the time of submission in 2016.)

Read more:

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



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