Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Questions (187)

Michael McNamara

Question:

187. Deputy Michael McNamara asked the Minister for Justice and Equality when extra specialised training should be offered to staff in facilities housing juvenile offenders, when extra personnel trained to deal with young offenders will be employed; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [32480/13]

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Written answers (Question to Justice)

I am advised by the Director General of the Irish Prison Service (IPS) that the University of Ulster has been successful in a recent tender to develop a programme to illustrate the benefits of positive communication, cover the main theories of communication, personality, child development and stress reduction in order to equip Irish Prison Service staff with the skills they need to de-escalate stressful and aggressive interactions, particularly those involving the young people in their care.

I have announced today my plans regarding the future accommodation of prisoners currently detained at St Patrick's Institution.

In line with the recommendation of the Inspector of Prisons and in order to effect the changes necessary in regime and culture and to ensure the safe and secure custody, I am satisfied that the complete closure of St. Patrick’s and the dispersal of all prisoners is now required. Pending the development of new facilities in Oberstown in mid 2014, for which the Minister for Children & Youth Affairs has responsibility, this will in the interim involve the transfer of all 17 year olds currently serving a sentence in St. Patrick’s Institution to a dedicated Unit in Wheatfield Prison and the transfer of the 18 to 20 year old population to Wheatfield also.

Arrangements will also be put in place for the transfer of prison staff to other institutions. With the full co-operation and support of everyone involved, it is anticipated that this can be achieved within 6 months. A dedicated Project Board has been established by the Irish Prison Service to oversee this transition. A Project Board and team have been put in place to manage the transition of young offenders from St. Patrick’s Institution to Wheatfield Prison and the selection and training of staff will be given priority.