Written Answers. - Detention Centres.

Thursday, 17 April 1997

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 477 No. 7

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  26.  Mr. Sargent  Information on Trevor Sargent  Zoom on Trevor Sargent   asked the Minister for Education  Information on Niamh Bhreathnach  Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach   when she intends to complete her examination of the report reviewing the overall provision of security and other matters for young offenders, in particular, at the Oberstown campus; and when plans will be announced as a result of this review. [5472/97]

  27.  Mr. O'Donoghue  Information on John O'Donoghue  Zoom on John O'Donoghue   asked the Minister for Education  Information on Niamh Bhreathnach  Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach   the plans, if any, she has to provide a secure detention place for young offenders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [9144/97]

Minister for Education (Ms Bhreathnach): Information on Niamh Bhreathnach  Zoom on Niamh Bhreathnach  I propose to take Questions Nos. 26 and 27 together.

The report to which Deputy Sargent refers deals with the feasibility of introducing a range of physical security measures at the Oberstown campus. It also addresses a number of issues relating to drainage and sewage treatment services on the campus and the capacity of the campus to accommodate additional development.

The report, which is highly technical, is currently being examined by experts from my Department's building unit. I expect that this examination will be completed shortly, following which it will be necessary to explore possible [1512] options with the management of the centres involved. This is to ensure that any steps taken are not only technically feasible but are also practical, having regard to the day-to-day activities of the centres.

Pending the outcome of this process, I am not in a position to comment on the precise measures which may be adopted or the time-frame for their introduction.

All young offender centres are designed and staffed to deliver the necessary level of security commensurate with the category of children being catered for. The most serious male offenders are accommodated at Trinity House School which has very stringent security arrangements.

However, the reality is that absolute security can never be fully guaranteed. In recent times, particular concern has arisen in relation to a number of absconds by offenders while on mobility trips from the Oberstown centres. The board of management of the centres is currently reviewing procedures in this area.

As an interim measure, in recognition of serious public concern at recent abscond incidents, it has been decided to suspend all short-term leave and mobility trips from the Oberstown centres. This suspension will remain in force pending a meeting of the board of management of the centres on 7 May 1997 at which the position regarding future leave arrangements and the terms governing such leave will be reviewed.


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