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Boys stripped and bullied in St Pat's

YOUNG prisoners having their clothes ripped or cut off and being locked up for 23 hours are part of the ugly picture painted by a new inspection report for St Patrick's Institution.

The damning report by the prisons watchdog has found that the rights of the 16-21-year- olds in the Dublin institution, were "ignored or violated".

Justice Minister Alan Shatter has described the findings as "quite shocking" and said neither he nor the Government would tolerate such abuse.

An action plan is now being put in place to tackle the scandal, the report reveals.

Forcible stripping of young offenders, bullying and intimidation of inmates and staff by a small minority of prison officers and the overuse of control and restraint techniques were all uncovered.

During one unannounced visit in April, the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, found that an inmate's T-shirt had been cut off using a knife.

"The prisoner had marks, which looked of recent origin, around his upper arms and neck. He stated that these injuries were sustained while his garments were being cut off."

Judge Reilly said he was also satisfied that threats had been made to prisoners and inducements offered to ensure they would not make complaints or, if the complaints had already been made, would withdraw them. In the majority of complaints of alleged assaults, or serious inappropriate action by officers, he was satisfied that the investigations carried out were flawed, incomplete and not in line with best practice.

Dismissed

The report found that some inmates had family visits banned as a punishment.

Some staff members are being investigated and could face dismissal.

Today, Mr Shatter said he had "instructed the director general of the Irish Prison Service to ensure that everything possible is done to address these issues within the timeframes set by the inspector if not before then". There are 200 young offenders in St Patrick's, including 25 inmates aged 17. The detention of children in St Patrick's will end in 2014, when inmates will move to a facility at Oberstown, Co Dublin.

Mr Shatter said a new prison governor and two assistants have been hired and he pledged to improve training for prison officers.

Children's Minister Frances Fitzgerald said the finding of the inspection was both shocking and unacceptable while the Irish Penal Reform Trust also said it was shocked at the report findings.

csheehy@herald.ie


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