Oberstown set to almost double its capacity to 80

by Sylvia Pownall

Oberstown director Pat Bergin admitted this week that the youth detention centre in Lusk would “always face challenges” but was taking steps to improve security.
Mr Bergin – who was injured during an incident at the campus last week – issued a statement confirming that two escaped detainees had since been returned.
Another member of staff was attacked with a crowbar during the disturbance and the offenders used an angle grinder to escape – just hours after a Building The Future event heard good progress was being made at the centre.
Mr Bergin said: “We will not be issuing further detail on the particulars of the incident, as it is the subject of a live Garda investigation.”
He added: “The incident followed an event held to mark the first anniversary, providing a stark reminder of the constant challenges an environment like Oberstown presents us with. We are committed to our efforts to improve.”
Mr Bergin said an implementation plan would bring about “positive change on a number of fronts.
“This positive change is reflected in the fact that until May 30 we were seven months without any major incident at the campus. This is progress. It will continue.”
The interim recommendations include tougher policing of the use of a range of illicit drugs.
Mr Bergin admitted: “It raises a challenge for the night supervising officer or the care staff because when the young person is taking some of this stuff, it’s more difficult to reason with them.”
Five other key recommendations include replacing bedroom doors with “a more robust-type door and lock”, weekly safety reviews, fostering a “positive no-blame incident-reporting culture”, moving a smoking area away from the gate, and strengthening barrier fences.
Last October, local residents met with Children’s Minister Katherine Zappone to voice their concerns over rioting, break-outs, industrial action by staff and other disturbances at the neighbouring campus.
This week, Senator Lorraine Clifford Lee (FF) warned: “The situation at Oberstown has been out of control for some time.
“Despite some progress and the best efforts of staff at the unit, Minister Zappone’s assertion that the facility is fit for purpose is clearly incorrect.”

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