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detention centre Massive rise in number of youngsters being detained at Oberstown for ‘very serious crimes’


Children's Minister Roderic O’Gorman

Children's Minister Roderic O’Gorman

Children's Minister Roderic O’Gorman

The number of youngsters being held for very serious crimes at the State’s youth detention centre is increasing.

The Oberstown Campus said in its annual report the number of longer sentences, for offences such as causing death, has risen in recent years.

It has required staff to receive trauma support while concerns have been raised about young offenders engaging with programmes regressing once moved to adult prisons.

Teenagers currently at the campus include Boy A and Boy B, who were convicted of the murder of schoolgirl Ana Kriegel (14).

There were 119 males and three females held at the centre in 2020, the youngest aged 13. Around a third of those are from Dublin, with 75 being detained for their first time and 47 recommitted.

The report states that 32 were members of the Travelling community and nine were foreign nationals.

Of the young people held at the centre, 55 were on detention orders and 67 were on remand.

On average there were 36 people held at Oberstown at any one time.

The number of complaints made by detainees has almost halved, with 26 in 2020 compared to 47 in 2019.

There has been an increase in staff injuries leading to loss of days, from 19 to 27, although this is still significantly down on 72 in 2016.

A Hiqa inspection last year resulted in no findings of non-compliance in any of the areas examined.

Children’s Minister Roderic O’Gorman said 2020 had been a difficult year.

“The board’s commitment to good governance and endeavour to achieve a safe and secure facility for this particularly vulnerable cohort of children is something I genuinely appreciate,” he said.

Oberstown chair Prof Ursula Kilkelly added change has been constant over recent years but that 2020 brought that to new levels.

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“I am pleased to report not only that Oberstown came through this period successfully and safely whilst continuing to innovate, to grow and to develop in line with the ambitions of the Oberstown strategy.

“With the appointment of our new director, Damien Hernon, we look forward with confidence to building on the progress already achieved,” Ms Kilkelly said.

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