Tuesday 27 September 2016

Oberstown was in 'lock-down' again overnight after further riot by inmates

Published 21/09/2016 | 11:45

The Children’s Detention Campus in Oberstown
The Children’s Detention Campus in Oberstown

The controversial Oberstown youth detention centre was reported to be in lock-down again last night after another riot by inmates.

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Sources said a group of inmates understood to include those who were part of the riot that led to the fire and destruction of one part of the centre in August were involved in a ‘barricade’ situation.

It is believed trouble started yesterday afternoon after a young man was taken to hospital suffering from a suspected drugs overdose.

It is understood senior management were in the centre all evening but were unable to prevent serious damage being caused to one of the remaining wings of the centre which is supposed to house up to 90 inmates but is thought to contain only between 30 and 40 now.

Inmates climbed on to the roof at Oberstown on a previous occasion. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Inmates climbed on to the roof at Oberstown on a previous occasion. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins
Inmates climbed on to the roof at Oberstown earlier in the day. Photo: Gareth Chaney Collins

Garda sources confirmed that an incident of criminal damage was reported following the latest riot, and is currently being investigated.

The Minister for Children’s Affairs, Katherine Zappone has continued to support the management of the centre.

On Monday she announced she was calling in a professor from Liverpool University and the head of the UK’s Probation Service to examine the running of the centre. They have been given until December to prepare a report.

Since the €56m centre officially opened in January last year, there have been dozens of serious attacks on staff leading to high levels of sickness leave, though both the Department and the Health and Safety Authority have declined to say how many reports have been made about staff injuries.

In the last attempted break-out in August eight young offenders broke out of their secured rooms and onto a detention centre roof after a staff member was overpowered and threatened with boiling water.

The incident that led to the riot and fire was started while staff were protesting about attacks, injuries and fears for their lives at the gates of the facility in north county Dublin.

While the protest was in operation the young offenders were forced to remain in their rooms being monitored by other staff.

But the offenders used the protest to their advantage when one requested refreshments, and a staff member who brought them was confronted, threatened and overpowered at the door and had their keys taken.

The offender was then able to free others who then took over the accommodation block.

Eight offenders then accessed the roof and started pulling the tiles off, and set fire to Blocks 1, 2 and 3.

When emergency services were called it is reported that some of the offenders on the roof threw roof tiles down at them.

There were no reports of injuries to fire crews, but the blaze took hold and eleven units of Dublin Fire Brigade spent hours fighting the fire.

Accommodation Block 3 collapsed due to the extent of the blaze, and Blocks 1 and 2 were left gutted.

One staff member was injured and treated in hospital when searching the facility for detainees who had absconded from their accommodation.

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