Wednesday, 21 October 2015
Department of Children and Youth Affairs
94. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the extent to which he remains satisfied regarding the adequacy of places of detention for juvenile offenders; rehabilitative training is available in such circumstances; if augmentation is required; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [36765/15]
The 3 children detention schools, all located at Oberstown, Lusk, Co. Dublin, currently provide a total of 54 detention places for children ordered to be remanded or committed by the courts, with 48 places for boys and 6 places for girls. The detention schools cater for boys up to the age of 17 years who are serving a sentence, boys up to the age of 18 years who are remanded in custody and all girls up to the age of 18 years.
In line with the Programme for Government commitment to end the detention of children in the adult prison facilities, boys aged 17 newly remanded in custody are being accommodated in the children detention schools since 30 March 2015, where places are available. Boys aged 17 ordered to serve a sentence of detention are currently accommodated in the adult prison system. This practice will cease on the recruitment of sufficient numbers of new residential care staff to work in the expanded detention facilities which have been provided in Oberstown.
There continues to be a high demand for children detention places from the courts, with the Oberstown campus operating at or near full capacity on most occasions for boys. The consistently high demand for remand places for boys, at approximately half of the overall operating capacity on the campus, is a significant factor in this regard. However, the children detention system continues to be in a position to meet the demand for places from the courts on most occasions. The bed management service which is overseen by the Irish Youth Justice Service, based in my Department, continues to operate on a 24 hour basis and can provide updated information on the availability of places to the criminal justice system at any time.
The Deputy will be aware that the children detention schools based in Oberstown, Lusk, Co Dublin provide appropriate education, training and other programmes and facilities for children referred to them by the courts. The delivery of children detention services is focused on education and rehabilitation of all young people detained in order to address offending behaviour and support their early re-integration into the community. I am advised that the development project currently nearing completion in Oberstown includes a new purpose - built education, training and recreation facility which came into use in the past month. Along with the existing services already being provided, these new facilities will ensure sufficient age and ability appropriate facilities to support the delivery, by the Dublin and Dun Laoghaire Education and Training Board (DDLETB), of the necessary education and training services to young people in detention.
I am also advised that an individual management plan is put in place for each child, irrespective of his or her background, on admission to the children detention schools which includes an assessment using a mental health screening tool to determine the need for more specialist assessment or intervention from specialists within the Assessment, Consultation and Therapy Service (ACTS). This is a national service provided by Tusla, the Child and Family Agency that provides clinical services to children in detention and in special care, as well as short term interventions when the child returns to the community. There are also a number of other therapeutic and education programmes delivered on the Oberstown campus as part of the child focused model of detention which are aimed at addressing offending behaviour patterns by children and ensuring their reintegration into society.