Oberstown reduced use of single separation by almost a quarter last year

Oberstown reduced its use of single separation - a restricted practice that sees young people in detention separated from other people - by almost a quarter during 2018 following increased “scrutiny" on the use of the practice.

Oberstown reduced use of single separation by almost a quarter last year

Oberstown reduced its use of single separation - a restricted practice that sees young people in detention separated from other people - by almost a quarter during 2018 following increased “scrutiny" on the use of the practice.

The reduction in the use of restrictive practices is noted in the 2018 annual report of the national children’s detention centre, which outlines a number of “sustained improvements” made last year.

Figures provided to the Irish Examiner show that single separation was used at the centre 1,277 times throughout last year, compared to 1,701 times throughout 2017.

According to the annual report, this reduction was obtained through daily reporting on single separation, weekly reporting on restrictive practices and monthly reporting to the Oberstown board of management.

“Data indicates that this oversight, among other measures, had a significant positive effect with a reduction in restrictive practices recorded during 2018,” the report states.

In 2018, 117 physical interventions were recorded at the youth detention centre, and 17 self-harming attempts, the figures provided to the Irish Examiner also show.

Oberstown is Ireland’s only children’s detention facility for children, usually aged between 13 and 17, who are sent there by the Children Court.

The annual report also shows that 45 of the young people detained at Oberstown last year requested to meet with a representative for the Ombudsman for Children’s Office (OCO), the body that deals with complaints made by or on behalf of children.

According to the annual report, a representative from the OCO was on campus at the detention centre the last Thursday of every month.

In 2018, 132 young people were detained in Oberstown on remand and detention orders; All were male except for seven young women. Eight young people served a detention order only, with 64 young people served remand orders only and a further 60 served both remand and detention orders.

Of the 132 young people in Oberstown during 2018, 28 were Travellers and 13 young people were not Irish.

More than half of young people in detention at the start of 2018 had a mental health need, a ‘snapshot’ into the circumstances of young people at Oberstown also found. Of the 92 young people in Oberstown between January and March last year, 52% were found to have mental health needs, and 22 of these young people were found to have a past or current diagnosis of ADHD.

More than 70% of the young people detained in Oberstown at that time were also found to have problems with drugs and/or alcohol, and 17 had self-harm concerns.

Between one third and one-half of the young people in detention at that time were also found to have suffered the loss of one or both parents, either through death, imprisonment or through no long-term contact.

Just under half of the young people in Oberstown at that time had not engaged with formal education prior to their detention and 20% were found to have some form of diagnosed learning disability.

Last year, 17 young people in Oberstown completed the 'What Have I Done?' victim empathy programme. A further 45 young people completed the 'Decider Programme' which is based on Cognitive Behaviour Therapy (CBT).

Chairwoman of the Oberstown board, Professor Ursula Kilkelly, said: "Throughout 2018, the board continued to provide important strategic direction to the Campus and in addition took further concrete steps to consolidate its operations in line with the Code of Conduct for the Practice of State bodies."

In 2018, progress was also made in implementing the Care, Education, Health, Offending behaviour and Preparation (CEHOP) model of care, Oberstown director, Pat Bergin, said: "For example, the placement planning process was developed and now provides a strong framework to guide a young person’s journey through care in Oberstown."

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