Operations at Oberstown youth detention centre to be reviewed after fire chaos

State's only detention facility for under-18s registered over 100 violent incidents last year


Oberstown detention centre in Lusk | File photo: RollingNews.ie

A review of operations at the Oberstown child detention centre has been announced this morning, in the wake of a series of disturbances at the facility in Dublin.

The Department of Children said the report will examine the capacity of the campus to the deliver the "highest standards of care" to the 48 young people being detained there.

It will be carried out by two experts on youth detention, Prof Barry Goldson of the University of Liverpool and Prof Nick Hardwick, chair of the UK’s Parole Board.

The review comes after a riot and fire at the centre last month, which saw one member of staff being injured.

A number of detainees are believed to have taken control of a residential unit and gained access to a campus roof during the upheaval on August 29th.

The High Court heard last week that one teenage boy has been held in solitary confinement since the incident.

Several strike days have also been held by staff as part of a dispute over safety and resources. 

In a statement, Minister for Children Katherine Zappone said "a number of serious incidents and industrial action" had highlighted the need for an assessment of the facility's progress.

"I look forward to receiving the findings so we can ensure that we can ensure the safety of all at Oberstown and at the same time end Ireland’s abysmal record of placing children in adult prisons."

The campus has experienced significant change in recent years, with the merger of three schools, the completion of a €56m modern facility and a substantial staffing programme, she added. 

The review’s terms of reference, which were signed off on September 14th, provide for an evaluation of practice and policy in line with international standards and best practice.

Recommendations to ensure more successful implementation of guidelines will also be delivered to Minister Zappone.

There were over 100 violent incidents at the facility in Lusk last year, almost half of which were classed as critical, according to figures from the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Critical assaults and injuries necessitated a total of 3,005 employee sick days, involving 65 staff members.

Responsibility for the centre – which comprises Oberstown Boys School, Oberstown Girls School and Trinity House School – was transferred from the department in 2012.