Saturday 21 July 2018

One boy still on run after escape from Oberstown

Four boys escaped the Oberstown young offenders facility, with one still at large
Four boys escaped the Oberstown young offenders facility, with one still at large

Sam Griffin

A young offender who absconded from Oberstown detention centre remains on the loose after two of his fellow escapees were returned to the facility at the weekend.

Four boys in total, aged 15 and 16, fled the facility near Lusk in north Co Dublin on July 25. Three have now been returned, but gardaí are still actively searching for the fourth boy.

Four members of staff were suspended following the escape, which has heaped huge attention on the facility where 49 children are currently being detained.

Workers have recently complained they are under-resourced and under-staffed due to a high number of staff going on sick leave following assaults by children detained at the centre.

Since March, 29 staff have had periods off work through injury caused by assault, restraining detainees or accident.

A meeting between staff and management took place last Friday where it was agreed that new training would be put in place for staff in the area of behavioural management as a response to the growing concerns for staff safety.

"A new round of training in this will be implemented from August 24," a spokesperson for the Department of Children said.

The training will focus on behavioural management techniques to prevent incidents from escalating. A staff safety group has also been set up.

The changes come as a senior youth worker warned it was only a matter of time before a death occurred at the facility if things do not change.

Speaking on the basis of anonymity, the youth worker said: "In my opinion, if it keeps going the way it is, there will be a fatality of either staff or a boy."

Oberstown has undergone a €56m redevelopment recently and has taken in children who were detained at the St Patrick's youth wing in Mountjoy prison.

Irish Independent

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