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Question

138. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of children detained in Wheatfield place of detention during each of the years 2011 to 2016 to date; and her plans to end this practice. [12650/16]

139. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of children in adult prisons in each of the years 2015 and 2016 to date. [12651/16]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I propose to take Questions Nos. 138 and 139 together.
I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that the number of 17 year olds detained in Wheatfield Place of Detention during each of the years 2011 to 2016 to date is set out in the table below.

Year Average number of 17 year olds detained in Wheatfield Place of Detention
Year 2016 to date 11
Year 2015 13
Year 2014 10
Year 2013 0
Year 2012 0
Year 2011 0

The practice of sending 16 year old boys to St Patrick's Institution ceased on 1st May, 2012. From that date, all newly remanded or sentenced 16 year olds have been detained in the children detention facilities in Oberstown, where a new detention facility was completed in 2014. This was In line with recommendations of the Inspector of Prisons to effect changes in regime and culture and to ensure the safe and secure custody of juvenile and young adult offenders. Arising from those recommendations, a Government decision was taken to close St. Patrick’s Institution and disperse, where possible, 17- 20 year old prisoners to other locations.
In line with that decision to close St Patrick's Institution, an area of Wheatfield was renovated to house 17 year old sentenced prisoners. All 17 year old males currently serving a sentence are in custody in Wheatfield Place of Detention.
The Minister for Children and Youth Affairs made the necessary orders under the Children Act 2001 to transfer responsibility for newly-remanded 17 year old males to Oberstown from 30 March 2015. However, for legal reasons, it has been necessary to retain St. Patrick’s Institution on a contingency basis for remands awaiting places in Oberstown. The courts have on occasion remanded 16 and 17 year olds to St Patrick’s for short periods until places in Oberstown become available.