Progress Report on Youth Justice Action Plan published
21st December 2016
On 14th December 2016, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Katherine Zappone TD and the Minister of State at the Department of Justice and Equality, David Stanton TD published Tackling Youth Crime, Youth Justice Action Plan 2014-2018 - Progress Report 2014/2015.
An Inter-Agency Implementation Team
oversees the implementation of the Youth Justice Action Plan and comprises
representatives from: An Garda Síochána, the Irish Youth Justice Service, The
Probation Service, the Irish Prison Service, Oberstown Children Detention
Campus and Tusla (the Child and Family Agency).
IPRT welcomes the progress made and notes a
high level of inter-agency co-operation between criminal justice agencies
recorded throughout the progress report, and the strong emphasis on
case-management, investment in diversion programmes, and the introduction of a
pilot bail support scheme.
However, the high number of young people
detained on remand continues to be of serious concern to IPRT. Figures from the
Department of Children and Youth Affairs (DCYA) show there were 263 children remand orders in 2015 with
an average length of stay of 24 days. Of these, 22 related to 13/14 year olds;
156 to 15/16 year olds; and 85 related to those aged 17.
In comparison, in 2015 there were 93 children detention orders made: 4 relating to
13/14 year olds and 89 relating to 15/16 year olds. No 17-year-olds received
children detention orders as this age group continues to be committed under
sentence to Wheatfield Place of Detention, an adult prison, in contravention of
international children’s rights standards. The average length of stay under a
children detention order in 2015 was just over 170 days.
In order to address the continued overuse
of detention on remand for children, there is a need to concentrate on
alternatives to detention. Therefore IPRT welcomes the further development of
the Bail Supervision Scheme, diversion projects, alternative community
sanctions including family conferencing and restorative justice during 2015
IPRT also welcomes the development and
publication of crime data by criminal justice agencies and notes the importance
of this data and evidenced-based research in order to inform policy and service
Key points in relation to progress made
related to five high-level goals are summarised below:
1: Agencies working together to ensure public confidence in addressing young
people in conflict with the law:
- The Youth Justice Action Plan
is integrated into key policy frameworks including the National Framework for
Children and Young People 2014-2020 ‘Better
Outcomes, Brighter Futures.’
- Relevant agencies identifying
young people as a distinct cohort and prioritising young people in Strategies, including a commitment by the Irish Prison Service and Probation Service in
their Joint Strategy to ‘enhance
age-appropriate prison based regimes’; a focus on targeted schemes for
young people in conflict with the law in An Garda Síochána’s Policing Plan
2015; and the Courts Service published a ‘Children
Court’ bench book for District Court Judges with a key emphasis on the
Children’s Act 2001 and International Best Practice Standards for Children.
2015, The Irish Youth Justice Service commenced a review of the Health
Information & Quality Authority ‘Standards
& Criteria for Children in Detention Schools.’
2: Develop an Evidence Base to support more effective policies taking into
account the voices of young people:
- Compilation of statistics
related to young people on remand and sentenced by the Irish Youth Justice Service and the Irish Prison Service.
- Research on alcohol and drug
misuse among young offenders, as well as recidivism rates undertaken by the
Probation Service, while also developing research in affiliation with Dublin
Institute of Technology on processes and outcomes of family conferencing.
- Irish Youth Justice Service proposed
undertaking research with a third-level partner on children and young people’s
journey into detention
- Oberstown Campus worked with
EPIC (Empowering People in Care) to establish a Children’s Council to ensure
the voices of young people detained are being heard.
3: Review & Strengthen Targeted Interventions to reduce re-offending &
divert young people away from the Criminal Justice System
- Children Detention Schools
linked in with YAP (Youth Advocacy Programme) to develop a pre-release pilot
programme for children coming out of detention.
- Agreements made in the delivery
of psychiatry services under the ACTS (Assessment, Consultation and Therapy
Services) in the Children Detention Schools.
- The development of a more
integrated, holistic approach for the care of children in Oberstown entitled Care, Education, Health, Offending and
Planning for the Future (CEHOP) in 2015.
- A key recommendation was the
establishment of an interagency group to establish a diversion programme for
18-21 years olds as proposed by the Strategic Review Group on Penal
4: Promote and Increase the Use of Community Measures including Restorative
Justice for Young People who offend
- A Bail Supervision Scheme was
established and is currently being piloted in Dublin with the aim of keeping
young people out of custody. One of the key actions is the implementation of
the Bail Supervision Scheme, which IPRT welcomes.
- A Restorative Practice
Strategic Forum was established with representatives from criminal justice
agencies with Towards Excellence in
Restorative Practice: A Quality Assurance Framework for Organisations and
5: Provide a Safe & Secure Environment & Necessary Support for detained
young people to assist their reintegration into the community
- ACTS providing
multi-disciplinary assessments and focused interventions for young people in
- Integrated Sentencing and Pre-release Planning for children in Wheatfield Prison by an Integrated
Sentence Management Officer
- Protocols developed between the Children
Detention Schools and The Probation Service on guidance around joint working with
children and young people entering detention, in detention and preparing for
- The full Progress Report on Tackling Youth Crime-Youth Justice Action
Plan 2014-2015 can be
- Youth Justice has been a key
area of IPRT’s work, advocating for the differential treatment for young adults
between 18-24. For more on IPRT’s position, see our report on the Differential Treatment of Young Adults in
the Criminal Justice System here.
- IPRT has carried out projects on the rights of children in detention, see Children’s Rights Behind Bars: A National
Report and Detention of Children in Ireland:
International Standards and Best Practice.
- IPRT has also previously advocated for an end to the imprisonment of children in St.
Patrick’s Institution. See our briefing Detention
of Children in St. Patrick’s Institution.