Wednesday 22 November 2017

Rise in staff attacks at Oberstown youth facility as gardai continue search for three teen escapees

Oberstown: child detention
Oberstown: child detention
Philip Ryan

Philip Ryan

A shocking 31 staff members working in the Oberstown facility for young offenders in Dublin received serious injuries following violent incidents at the centre in the past four months.

The worrying rise in attacks on staff come as gardai continue to search for three escapees who broke out of the facility last week.

Staff are hugely concerned about the rise in assaults following the recent transfer of older offenders to the centre, which has resulted in workers been forced to take stress-related sick leave.

The warnings are contained in a briefing document compiled by the Oireachtas Health Committee and sent to Children’s Minister James Reilly.

Members of the Health Committee recently met with Oberstown staff to discuss their concerns about working conditions at the centre.

Following the meeting, Committee chairman Jerry Buttimer wrote to Mr Reilly outlining staff concerns.

Workers warned that the facility was not prepared for introduction of older offenders who are “physically bigger, older and exhibit more challenging behaviour”.

Staff say this has “changed the dynamic” between staff and the younger boys.

They warned that most staff do not have sufficient training to deal the increasing number of violent incidents.

In the letter, seen by, the Health Committee said it was concerned that there was no “sanctions or consequences” for offenders who threaten or assault staff.

The committee also noted that there was no system in place to separate the older, more violent offenders, from the younger boys.

It was also noted that the new facility was contributing to the rise in aggressive behaviour.

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