Minister, HSE and Gardaí silent on case details

THE Irish Examiner sent detailed questions on the two cases to the HSE, Five Rivers and Children’s Minister Barry Andrews.

The questions gave specific information relating to the garda stations involved and the dates of the incidents.

The HSE and Mr Andrews said they would not comment on specific cases. Five Rivers referred all questions to the HSE and would not comment in any way.

The Garda Síochána provided a brief response and Justice Minister Dermot Ahern referred questions to Minister Andrews.

HSE response:

“The HSE has established the Emergency Place of Safety service whereby Gardaí can access an appropriate place of safety for children found to be at risk out of hours (outside normal working hours, 5pm-9am Monday to Friday and weekends and bank holidays) under Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991.

“Under the Child Care Act, 1991 an Garda Síochána has sole legal responsibility where there is an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child, and it would not be sufficient for the protection of the child from such immediate and serious risk to await the making of an application for an emergency care order by the HSE under section 13, to remove the child to safety.

“The Emergency Place of Safety service provides a standardised response across the country for children who can be appropriately placed in a family setting. This service applies outside the Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow areas. Such services are available currently for these areas.

“The HSE retains custody, within the meaning of section 12 of the Child Care Act, 1991, through its agents Five Rivers Ireland, of a child placed with Five Rivers Ireland by the Garda Síochána under section 12(3) of the Child Care Act, 1991. Day to Day care will be provided by Five Rivers Ireland as agent for the HSE.

“The service conforms with relevant Child Care Regulations and with the National Standards for Foster Care.

“A Joint HSE/Garda Protocol provides a code of conduct and set of standardised procedures for staff of the HSE and members of the Garda Síochána in the placement of children with Five Rivers Ireland in the operation of this service.

“This protocol outlines an agreed procedure between the Health Service Executive and the Garda Síochána and clarifies the roles and requirements of the agencies in relation to the placement of children out of hours by the Garda Síochána under Section 12 of the Child Care Act, 1991.

“The on-going operation of the service is under review by a joint HSE/Garda Committee.

“For the period since the service began on 5th June up to 17th July there have been 36 referrals relating to 45 children perceived to be at risk.

Of the referrals, 14 (39%) were appropriate and placements were provided for children; 7 (19%) referrals were inappropriate as children already had a Care placement, in one case (3%), referral was appropriate and a placement was offered but refused by the Gardaí. In the remaining 14 referrals (39%) advice about an appropriate place of safety service e.g. acute hospital or psychiatric evaluation or course of action was provided.”

Additional information was requested as to what happens in situations where referrals are deemed “inappropriate”. Specifically, we asked where do children go and what advice is given to gardaí?

HSE said: “Where the child in question is already in the Care of the HSE the Gardaí, in consultation with 5 Rivers Ireland, will return the child to his/her Care placement.

“In all cases the 5 Rivers social worker provides information and advice to the Gardaí.”

Office for Minister for Children, Barry Andrews

“The Minister does not propose to comment on the specific circumstances of the two cases.

The Minister wishes to point out that under the Child Care Act, 1991 an Garda Síochána has sole legal responsibility where there is an immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child, and it would not be sufficient for the protection of the child from such immediate and serious risk to await the making of an application for an emergency care order by the HSE under section 13, to remove the child to safety.

The HSE recently established an “Emergency Place of Safety service” whereby Gardaí can access an appropriate place of safety for children found to be at risk out of hours (outside normal working hours, 5pm-9am Monday to Friday and weekends and bank holidays) under Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991.

The service provides for a standardised response across the country for children who can be appropriately placed in a family setting. This service applies outside the Dublin, Kildare and Wicklow areas. Such services are available currently for these areas.

The HSE retains custody through its agents Five Rivers Ireland, of a child placed with Five Rivers Ireland by the Garda Síochána under section 12(3) of the Child Care Act, 1991.

The Minister has not been approached by AGSI for a meeting about this matter.”

The Minister’s office was asked to explain what happens in situations where Five Rivers does not provide emergency care and what gardaí are supposed to do in those situations?

“The Health Service Executive (HSE) has advised that the joint working arrangements between an Garda Síochána and the HSE are that the on-call social worker will establish, in consultation with the delivering Garda, on the basis of the information provided if the circumstances are appropriate for a placement within the terms of the service. In addition Gardaí, Health Service Executive staff and Five Rivers Ireland staff should use their professional judgment to take any action that is deemed necessary to protect the safety of the child, based on an assessment of need for each individual child.

“The Health Service Executive has advised that a placement will be provided in all circumstances where it is appropriate, following consultation, for the child to be placed in a family setting. Circumstances in which a child would not be appropriately placed with a family would include where the child requires medical attention and should be brought to an acute hospital or where the child is behaving in a manner likely to cause injury to himself or others and requires detention.”

Garda Síochána:

“An Garda Síochána works closely with the HSE in line with current legislation and the Children First Guidelines.

“In April this year a joint protocol between An Garda Síochána the HSE was signed. The Protocol sets out the roles and responsibilities of both agencies in relation to Children Missing from Care. The joint aim of both organisations is to reduce the incidence of Children Missing from Care placements, to prevent those children from suffering harm and to return them to safety as soon as possible.”


Lifestyle

In a new daily feature, Arts editor Des O'Driscoll lists the best things on the box for the evening aheadTuesday's TV highlights: The past revisited

Don’t ask me which week it is at this stage — I wouldn’t be surprised to wake up one of these mornings and discover that it’s Christmas Day,Learner Dad: "I’m an Irish male born before 1990, so tears are not an option"

From DIY face masks to luxurious manicures, these will leave you feeling relaxed and rejuvenated.10 at-home beauty treatments to feel like you’re at a spa

Psychologist Dr Meg Arroll tells Liz Connor how to avoid feeling ‘trapped in’ while distancing yourself from others.How to avoid cabin fever while in self-isolation

More From The Irish Examiner