herald

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Oberstown worker was reprimanded for trying to stop inmate escaping

Oberstown and Trinity House Campus, Lusk, Co. Dublin, from which five inmates escaped this week.
Oberstown and Trinity House Campus, Lusk, Co. Dublin, from which five inmates escaped this week.

Last weekend's escape from Ireland's only young offenders' institution is not the only serious incident there recently, the Herald can reveal.

Other escape attempts have been made by detainees at the Oberstown centre in Lusk, north Dublin, in the past 12 months, one of which resulted in a member of staff being reprimanded for detaining an escapee.

Restraining

During the incident, which is understood to have happened in June, a teenager being held at the campus tried to escape while on a visit to the dentist in Balbriggan.

A member of staff accompanying the boy managed to prevent him from fleeing.

However, sources said the worker was reprimanded as a result of physically restraining the teenager.

"One of the reasons these incidents are happening more often and are getting out of hand is because staff are instructed to maintain a hands-off approach when these incidents occur and not to restrain any of the inmates, just observe," a source said.

"Staff are dealing with some very high-risk teenagers who have committed very serious offences but they're not expected to intervene directly when something kicks off or when one tries to flee."

Five youths escaped from the north Dublin facility last Saturday after climbing over a wall.

Three were caught almost immediately, while two others - one of whom had previously escaped - were detained after a garda manhunt involving the Air Support Unit.

A spokesman for the Department of Children and Youth Affairs said that "these are matters within the scope of the director and the board of management of Oberstown as they are responsible for the day- to-day operations of the campus".

He added: "It would not be appropriate for the minister to comment on detailed operational issues."

The Herald previously revealed how one of the teenagers who fled the Oberstown campus on Saturday was the subject of a garda manhunt after an earlier escape.

He was one of four detainees who absconded last August using ladders belonging to builders carrying out work at the facility.

Brawl

The boy was also involved in a brawl at the facility that resulted in another inmate being stabbed and two members of staff being injured.

It is understood that the juvenile used a broken cup to stab a fellow inmate in the chest and arm.

Oberstown director Pat Bergin said staff were examining security measures and a review of the incident is under way.

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