Watchdog tells children in jail how to complain
on 12/10/2012 00:00:00
St Patrick's Institution has been dogged with controversy over the years, with recent figures showing it had the highest level of assaults and inmates on protection than any other prison.
Ms Logan revealed she was going in to meet the children in St Patrick's.
She said while the number of 17-year-olds incarcerated there was now "small", compared to what it once was, the jailing of children with adults was "still of huge concern".
The number of children held in the jail has dropped from 46 in Nov 2010. It used to house 16-year-olds, but the last such child in the jail left last July.
A National Children's Detention Facility is due to be built at the Oberstown campus in north Dublin. It will house both 16- and 17-year-olds serving custodial sentences and on remand awaiting trial.
Building is due to start in May 2013 and is expected to be completed by Apr 2014.
A spokesperson for the Ombudsman for Children said Ms Logan was there to inform the children how to make a complaint.
"This is to make sure everyone knows who we are, what we are about and how to make a complaint," she said.
She said Ms Logan was determined to ensure conditions for 17-year-olds in St Patrick's improved while the new facility was being built. "Our view is that 17-year-olds shouldn't be there, full stop, but while they are there, the environment should be more appropriate."
She said under the Ombudsman for Children Act 2002, the office had been excluded from investigating complaints at St Patrick's.
While the office could not investigate complaints, it could consult with the children in St Patrick's and highlight their general concerns. Ms Logan began this process in 2009 and published a report last year, repeating a call that her investigatory remit be extended to St Patrick's.
In July of this year, Justice Minister Alan Shatter extended the remit of the Ombudsman to investigate individual complaints from children in the jail.
Last month, the Irish Examiner revealed the level of violence and the high number of inmates on protection in St Patrick's.
It accounted for a third of all assaults in the entire prison system, while almost a third of its inmates were on protection.
The spokesperson said "all these issues" were of concern to the Ombudsman. She said their research with children there showed they were "scared, intimidated and frightened".
She said there were also positives, including an excellent school with committed staff. The office also welcomed new governor, Danny Robbins.