Children Detention Schools Development
Oberstown Children Detention Campus (Oberstown)
Oberstown Children Detention Campus (Oberstown) provides a safe and secure environment for young people remanded in custody or sentenced by the Courts for a period of detention. The principal objective of the schools under the Children Act 2001 is to provide care, education, training and other programmes to boys and girls aged between 12 and 18 years to promote their reintegration into society and prepare them to take their place in the community as persons who observe the law and are capable of making a positive and productive contribution to society.
Oberstown is governed under a single Board of Management, including nominees from staff and the local community, five members selected through the State Boards appointment process and representatives of government departments. The Director of Oberstown is responsible for the day to day good order, safety and security within the Campus and acts in loco parentis for each child under the supervision and care of Oberstown. Oberstown is funded by the Irish Youth Justice Service (IYJS) in the Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA).
In April 2012, the Department of Children and Youth Affairs approved the project and allocated the required funding to deliver a National Children Detention Facility to end the practice of detaining 16 and 17 year old boys in St. Patrick's Institution, in line with the Programme for Government.
Oberstown Board of Management
Following the amalgamation of the 3 Children Detention Schools and the creation of a single legal entity, Oberstown Children Detention Campus, a new Board of Management was appointed in accordance with the Children Act 2001. The Board of Management consists of a chairperson and 12 other members. Of the Board of Management members at least one shall be an officer of the Minister, one shall be an employee of the Child and Family Agency nominated by the Minister for Health and Children, one shall be an officer of the Minister for Education and Science nominated by that Minister, two shall be members of the staff of the children detention school, and two shall be representative of persons living in the area of such school.
The Children Act 2001 provides that’s the Board shall manage the children detention school or schools to which it has been appointed in accordance with criteria laid down from time to time by the Minister to provide safe and secure custody for children in detention and in addition, the safest possible working environment for staff. The Board operates within the governance structures as set out in the Children Act 2001.
Children Detention Schools Policies
The national children detention schools policies created by the IYJS are adopted as operational policies and procedures in Oberstown. Oberstown policies are under continuous review by the Board of Management. A number of policies have been approved by the Board and apply across the Oberstown Campus. Current policies used in Oberstown can be viewed here.
An Education Strategy provides the framework for the type of education to be delivered and the curriculum to be followed. The attainment of national certificates of educational achievement continues to be a priority within children detention schools. The provision of education in children detention schools is the responsibility of the Department of Education and Skills, and is provided through Education Training Boards Ireland. In Oberstown education is provided by the Dublin and Dún Laoghaire Education Training Board. Both primary and secondary level courses as well as a wide range of vocational and Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI) accredited awards are available through the Oberstown Education Centre. The purpose built Education Centre in Oberstown caters to all young people, with opportunities to engage in a range of learning choices during their placement.
Children Detention Schools Inspections
A Safeguarding Policy has been developed by the IYJS, designed to promote children’s welfare, to safeguard children from harm or abuse, and to protect staff from potential false allegations of abuse. This was been put in place following a review of the Child Protection Policy document, which had been developed and was in use across all Children Detention Schools. In addition to this policy, a Child Welfare Advisor is appointed to the IYJS who provides oversight with regard to child protection and welfare issues, as well as standards of children detention schools, inspections and complaint mechanisms in children detention Schools.
The European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) visit to Ireland in September 2014 incorporated a visit to the children detention schools and a subsequent report. The CPT is scheduled to visit Ireland in 2019.
Inspectors from within the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA),are authorised under the provisions of section 185 and 186 of the Children Act 2001 (as amended), by the Minister of Children and Youth Affairs, to carry out inspections of children detention schools at least once every 12 months. Following inspections the reports and subsequent action plans are published on the HIQA website. Operational policies and procedures in Oberstown are reviewed in light of the findings of the inspections and, actions are taken to meet the HIQA recommendations.
Bail Supervision Scheme (BSS)
In accordance with the key principal of the Children Act 2001, that detention should be used as a last resort, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs officially launched the Bail Supervision Scheme (BSS) on a pilot basis on 12th June 2017. The pilot is for an initial 2 year period during which time a review and evaluation will be conducted to determine the future of the scheme.
The initial results of the BSS pilot scheme have been impressive and shown increasing compliance with bail conditions; reduction in breaches of bail, reductions in criminal activity, and a return to education/training. By maintaining a number of young people in the community on the BSS there is a consequent reduction in the need for detention places. This approach is in keeping with the key principal of youth justice policy and legislation, that the detention of a child should only be imposed as a last resort.
The Bail Supervision programme provides a court with the option to grant bail to a child, rather than detaining the child, during remand proceedings. The option offered to the court is to release the child on bail with conditions set by the court. The child and his/her family consent to engage in a community based Multi-Systemic Therapy (MST) programme. MST is an evidence-based programme with a verifiable track record in improving the behaviour of children involved in complex and chaotic circumstances.