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Unit for troubled children is in crisis, report finds

A SECURE unit caring for troubled children was in a state of crisis when it was inspected two months ago, a report revealed yesterday.

The Gleann Alainn unit in Cork was caring for six girls aged 11 to 17 years who had been referred by the High Court.

A week before the visit, inspectors were notified of an incident in which a child had taken a set of keys from a member of staff and absconded with another girl in the early hours of the morning.

In the previous year children had gone missing on several occasions -- for up to six days in some cases.

"This was similar to a previous incident which occurred in 2008 that prompted an independent investigation and a review of safety and security measures in the unit", the report from the watchdog, the Health Information and Quality Authority revealed.

The inspection found:

• Evidence of children showing disturbed and extremely high-risk behaviour.

• There were 25 unauthorised absences involving five children in the year prior to inspection.

• The absences ranged from 30 minutes to six days.

• Children told inspectors they did not always feel safe in the unit and complained of bullying and assaults by other residents.

• It was staffed by 21 full-time permanent and one part-time temporary childcare leaders.

The unit will be inspected again next month.

Irish Independent