More than half of Oberstown young offenders have mental health needs

Almost half were not engaged with education, says detention centre’s deputy director

More than half of young people in Oberstown children's detention centre have mental-health needs, according to the centre's deputy director, Lena Timoney.

She told RTÉ's Morning Ireland that the centre has compiled a report on the help and support needed by the young people who have been sent to it in the first three months of this year. Of the 92 offenders whom the courts referred to the centre, which provides care and education for under-18s, with the aim of reintegrating them into the community, 52 per cent had mental-health needs, and 49 per cent had disengaged from education.

Twenty of the 92 young people were there for criminal activity, 14 for offences under the Road Traffic Act and 44 for multiple incidents of theft and fraud. The centre, which is near Balbriggan, in north Co Dublin, has about 45 offenders in its care at any one time.

“The aim of Oberstown is to address the care needs, mental-health needs and educational needs – and in addition the risks of repeat behaviour – so they will have a comprehensive plan when they are released.”


Ms Timoney said community-based stakeholders will meet today to look at the data in the report and work out how a multiagency approach could help the young people in its care.