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Child Protection

HIQA report expresses concern over alleged abuse by Gardaí

The report said there has been no outcome from a complaint to the Garda Ombudsman and there was “little external advocacy and intervention” on behalf of the young person involved.

AN OFFICIAL REPORT by the Health Information and Quality Authority (HIQA) has expressed concern about a case relating to a serious allegation of mistreatment by Gardaí during the return of a young person to the campus of a detention centre.

Staff at Oberstown detention centre in north Dublin and inspectors were concerned regarding the seriousness of allegations that the vulnerable  young person made and the staff reported these to the Garda Ombudsman. However a recent HIQA report said there was no outcome at the time of a its inspection.

Inspectors felt that despite this young person being in the care of the HSE, there was “little external advocacy and intervention on their behalf”.

The report found that some staff considered that an allegation by a young person that they were handled roughly by a staff member or a Garda was a complaint and not an allegation of abuse. Inspectors recommended that all staff receive training in the identification and categorisation of child abuse.

Of the standards reviewed in the course of the recent inspection by HIQA of Oberstown detention centre, the report said there were no practices that fully met the required standard.

While most of the young people in the care of the centre said they felt that day-to-day care offered in the schools was acceptable some young people informed inspectors that staff “should show more respect” and “listen”.

The majority of young people who returned questionnaires cited that they had little or no belief in the complaints system and many stated they would not inform staff if they had a complaint.

Inspectors criticised the frequency with which young people at Oberstown were separated following incidents. The longest total separation was for 35 hours but one young person was separated for 10 hours per day for seven concurrent days due to a series incident that affected their emotional well-being.

The report said young people did not like being locked up within individual units if they misbehaved and those interviewed by inspectors were not aware of their rights in this regard.

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