Advertisement

We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

POA general secretary John Clinton says officers need specific training to be able to deal with 16 and 17-year-old inmates. Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland
Prisons

Prison officers: 'We can't deal with 16-year-olds - we're not child carers'

The Prison Officers Association says members need special training to deal with underage inmates – and they don’t get it.

IRELAND’S PRISON OFFICERS have said extra specialised training should be offered to staff in facilities housing juvenile offenders – arguing that their present training is inadequate to deal with the specific circumstances of under-18s.

The annual conference of the Prison Officers Association this morning heard that recent reports on St Patrick’s Institution, the country’s predominant prison for young inmates, had complemented prison workers for their positive attitude.

However, it did not “alter the underlying problem – namely, that prison officers are not trained to do this work,” general secretary John Clinton said.

“We are not trained in the sensitive and complex area of childcare. St Patrick’s caters for 16 to 17-year-olds,” he added.

Clinton said St Patrick’s was not fit for the purpose of housing minors – and that while the association had no problem with incarcerating young people who had broken the law, extra consideration of the supports and interventions were needed.

“Many of these young people will have committed serious crimes, but they are also most likely to have other issues, such as neglect, addiction, education deficiencies and often homelessness,” Clinton said.

He added, however, that while prison officers always did their best to provide support, “we are depending very much on the personality of the individual prison officer, as there is no specific training to equip officers for this work.

“This is unfair on the prison officers and the young people,” he said.

The Government announced plans last year to phase out the detention of 16 and 17-year-olds in St Patrick’s – which houses offenders up to the age of 21 – and instead commit them to another facility in Oberstown.

Read: St Patrick’s report positive – but says violence and gangs are still a problem

Readers like you are keeping these stories free for everyone...
A mix of advertising and supporting contributions helps keep paywalls away from valuable information like this article. Over 5,000 readers like you have already stepped up and support us with a monthly payment or a once-off donation.

Your Voice
Readers Comments
63
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.