Children Detention Schools
Children detention schools provide places for a child to be detained in custody in relation to criminal charges. This can be when a Court remands a child in custody or, following a conviction, when a child is sentenced either to a period of detention only or for a period of detention to be followed by supervision in the community by the Probation Service. Before sending a child to detention, the Court will try to make sure that no other option is available that would address the offences with which the child is charged.
The children detention schools are: Trinity House School, Oberstown Boys School and Oberstown Girls School. The principal objective of the schools under the Children Act 2001 is to provide care, education, training and other programmes with a view to reintegrating the child into society.
The children detention schools operate under a single Board of Management. Each school has a Director who is responsible for the day to day good order, safety and security within their facility and acts in loco parentis for each child under the school’s supervision and care.
All three are located on the same campus at Oberstown, near Lusk, Co. Dublin. Responsibility for these detention schools transferred from the Minister for Justice and Equality to the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs with effect from 1 January 2012. The detention schools are funded by the Irish Youth Justice Service, which is an office within the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.
All three are designated as remand centres for children. Trinity House School and Oberstown Boys School are designated as remand centres for boys under 17 years of age and Oberstown Girls School is designated as a remand centre for girls under 18 years of age. Statutory Instrument 136/2012, signed by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, T.D., provides the legal basis for this designation. The Statutory Instrument and Certificates outlining maximum numbers, sex and ages of children are viewable here.
Trinity House School operates as a self contained secure facility for boys aged up to 17 years at the time of their detention in relation to criminal matters. Oberstown Boys School and Oberstown Girls School operate a more open model of detention, sharing some resources, such as education, recreation, maintenance and making use of the wider grounds within the campus boundary. Oberstown Boys School accommodates boys up to the age of 17 years on admission and Oberstown Girls School accepts girls up to the age of 18 years old.
There are two education centres on the campus catering for all the children being detained. This service comes under the remit of the County Dublin Vocational Educational Committee, as provided for in the Children Act 2001.
The current three children detention schools were originally established as reformatory schools under the Children Act 1908 and formally became Children Detention Schools on the commencement of the detention provisions of the Children Act 2001, as amended, on 1 March 2007.
Before the changeover, there were five facilities designated as industrial and reformatory schools, the three existing children detention schools and two others: St. Joseph’s Special School, Ferrybank, Co.Tipperary and Finglas Child and Adolescent Centre, Dublin. Of these St. Joseph’s Special School transferred to the Health Service Executive and Finglas Child and Adolescent Centre transferred to the Department of Justice and Equality and was later closed on 31 March 2010. Read report
Twelve members were appointed to the Board on the 26th March 2012 by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs for a period of 2 years. A twelveth member was appointed on the 14th November 2012. The Chair appeared before the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children on 8 March 2012 as is required before being formally appointed.
The Directors of the three children detention schools report to the Oberstown Board of Management which meets usually on a monthly basis. The Board comprises of Mr. Joe Horan (Chair), Mr. Dan Kelleher, Mr. Gerard McKiernan, Dr. Ursula Kilkelly, Mr. Diego Gallagher, Ms. Sylda Langford, Mr. Colin Fetherston, Mr. Pat Rooney, Ms. Elizabeth Howard, Ms. Deirdre Keyes, Mr. Barry Rooney and Ms. Rachel Grimes.
A range of policies across the Children Detention Schools is under continuous review by the Board of Management. A number of Children Detention School Policies have been approved by the Board to date and apply across all three schools. This list will be continually updated as policies are added or reviewed.
Children Detention Schools Inspections
The children detention schools are independently inspected by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) at least annually using the Standards and Criteria for Children Detention Schools. All HIQA inspection reports are published on their website. Policies and procedures are reviewed in light of the findings of the inspections and, in keeping with the particular nature of a detention facility, actions are taken to meet the HIQA recommendations.
The following national and international bodies have also visited or reported on the children detention schools:
- Ombudsman for Children
- Council of Europe - Human Rights Commissioner
- European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT)
In March 2008, the Government decided to develop a new National Children Detention Facility (NCDF) on the Oberstown Campus following recommendations made by an Expert Group on Children Detention Schools regarding future development and the review of the future role of Finglas Child and Adolescent Centre.
After this the IYJS engaged in a broad consultation process with stakeholders to develop the project brief. This process included discussions with staff in the children detention schools, other State bodies, Non-Governmental Organisations and children residing in the children detention schools and, with the assistance of Probation Officers and local management, St. Patrick’s Institution (Read Report).
The Office of Public Works was appointed to provide the required expertise for the design and project management (including architectural, engineering and quantity surveying services) of the project and the design process is near completion. During 2010 a number of enabling works were planned and tendered. In 2011 plans to undertake advance enabling works on the campus were postponed as it was decided that it was inappropriate to commit to any further expenditure while a comprehensive expenditure review across all Government departments was underway.
In conjunction with the expenditure review, the IYJS proposed a reduced scheme for this project which would reduce costs and, reflecting the downward trend in demand for detention places over recent years, would still provide sufficient accommodation and ancillary facilities to enable the extension of the child care model of detention to 16 and 17 year old boys in the short to medium term.
In November 2011, the Government published its medium term capital expenditure framework which did not include provision for the development at Oberstown Campus. The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs continued a dialogue with the Minister for Public Expenditure and Reform, and the Minister for Justice and Equality with a view to progressing the project.
On 2nd April 2012, Minister Fitzgerald confirmed that €50 millon approx. capital funding is being provided to deliver a National Children Detention Facility to end the practice of detaining 16 and 17 year old boys in St. Patrick's Institution.
The project will deliver 6 new residential units, with the initial phase of 3 units being used to end the use of St. Patrick's Institution for under 18 year olds. The remaining units will replace substandard accommodation at the Oberstown Campus. The facility is to be fully complete by 2015 at the existing site in Oberstown, Co. Dublin.
Minister Fitzgerald also announced a series of interim measures in advance of the completion of the capital project. The measures are:
From the 1st May 2012 assignment of responsibility for the detention of newly remanded or sentenced 16 year old boys to the children detention schools in Oberstown. This means that it will no longer be necessary for 16 year olds to be sent to St. Patrick's Institution by the courts from this date onwards.
Enhanced provision of specialist therapeutic services for children in residential institutions, in both the children detention schools and special care units operated by the Health Service Executive. A specialist multi-disciplinary service is being established for this purpose with the recruitment of a Director for this service already underway.
The introduction of amendments to the Children Act 2001 to provide for the management of all facilities on the Oberstown campus (i.e. Oberstown Boy's School, Trinity House School, Oberstown Girl's School) on an integrated basis.
The three detention schools were originally established as entirely separate entities under the 1908 Children Act. One of the medium term goals of the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs is the further integration of the detention school campus in Oberstown. This will optimise the use of shared services and common policies across the three children detention schools. This will support the integrated, centralised facilities to be provided in the development of a National Children Detention Facility on the Oberstown site.
The Public Appointments Service undertook a review of management structures in the detention schools during 2010. The Public Appointments Service submitted its final report on the review in 2011 and the recommendations are currently being considered by the Minister.
There is a transitional provision in the Children Act 2001, as amended, which allows the legal detention of 16 and 17 year old boys in St. Patrick’s Institution (a facility under the remit of the Minister for Justice and Equality). This provision is necessary due to insufficient suitable, secure places within the children detention school system. The planned development of new facilities on the Oberstown campus will provide sufficient detention places to end this practice and to accommodate all under 18 years olds ordered to be detained by the Courts at a single location.
From 1st May 2012, all newly remanded or sentenced 16 year old boys are sent to Children Detention Schools in Oberstown i.e. Trinity House School or Oberstown Boys School. This means that it is no longer necessary for 16 year old boys to be sent to St. Patrick's Institution by the Courts.