7 staff a week absent at Oberstown Detention Centre - 1,668 days lost

The country’s main youth detention centre is down seven staff on any given week due to absenteeism, with new figures showing 1,668 rostered days — roughly seven staff a week —lost there last year.

Figures provided by the Department of Children also showed 56 notable incidents were recorded at Oberstown Children Detention Campus last year, including two ranked as an emergency.

The Impact trade union has confirmed representatives from it will be meeting management today to discuss the findings of the report.

In the data provided under Freedom of Information, 12 young people were injured last year in the north Dublin facility, and 88 staff were injured.

Staff had indicated they were going on an all-out strike but in December that proposed action was deferred. Impact said it had secured an independent review on the introduction of personal protective equipment for staff working at there.

Violence against staff at the centre in Lusk had been cited as the main reason for the proposed industrial action, and the figures provided to the Irish Examiner show of the 88 staff injured last year, 34 had been assaulted by a young person.

Another 31 staff members were injured while trying to restrain a young person, and 23 were injured due to an accident on campus.

According to the response from Irish Youth Justice Service’s children detention school unit: “A total of 1,668 rostered days were missed as a result of injuries. This equates to 6.95 staff unavailable for work per week.

“The medical treatment which staff required included: physiology treatment, consultant appointments, medical surgery and continued support from clinic to hospital attendance including post support counselling.”

The number of work days lost as a result of stress was unavailable.

Of the 12 young people injured last year, six were involved in recreational activities, three were hurt by peers, one during a restraint, and three in an accident. All 12 received medical attention on site and two were treated in hospital.

Oberstown rates notable incidents across three categories: Emergency, critical, and significant. There were two grade one emergency incidents which involve the potential for imminent death and/or closure of sections of the campus. There were 41 critical incidents and 13 incidents deemed to have been significant.

The response also notes that five young people absconded from the centre last August, with the longest absence for four hours 15 minutes. In August last year, serious disturbances at the centre resulted in a major fire breaking out.

In a bulletin issued to its members last week, Impact said an independent report had recommended the limited use of personal protective equipment, along with other measures to improve health and safety at Oberstown.

The study, commissioned from Tom Beegan and Associates in response to union concerns, called for the full implementation of a safety, health and welfare management system on the campus.

The report had an even higher number of injuries logged than the figures provided by the department, showing 137 assault or restraint-related injuries to staff in 2016, resulting in a total of 1,826 days lost up to November. The total number of days lost to injury-related absences between 2014 and 2016 was 5,285.


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