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Number of assaults on staff at young offenders' facility soars

ASSAULTS on staff at the Oberstown House facility for young offenders have increased significantly in recent months – as older detainees are admitted to the campus, a union conference has been told.

Workers at Oberstown House have seen assaults rise as a result of older offenders being transferred to the facility from St Patrick's Institution.

Ciaran Lyons told delegates at the union's health and welfare conference in Portlaoise that the Oberstown facility had been taking in young offenders between 16 and 18 years of age since April of last year.

"In the space of one weekend recently, there were nine assaults on staff. This is unacceptable," he said.

The Government intends to move all 16- and 17-year-olds from St Patrick's Institution to the campus by mid-2014. However, the Irish youth branch of Impact tabled a motion calling for the move to be opposed until existing staff issues were resolved and a risk assessment was carried out. Delegates at the conference voted unanimously to pass the motion.

Mr Lyons said the union's branch welcomed the initiative to accommodate all under-18 offenders at a single location but stressed it must be done in an appropriate manner.

"Our concern is that the introduction of older clients who have committed more serious crimes and who are physically bigger could have an immediate and negative effect on the services available for younger clients," he added.

Irish Independent