Report commends good work within Juvenile Justice Centre

A REPORT published today by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJI) commends the professional practice and continued improvements at the Woodlands Juvenile Justice Centre (JJC).

Dr Michael Maguire, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland said, “We found that the JJC continues to provide high levels of care and control to children sent into custody.  Inspectors found the JJC was fulfilling its legislative remit to ‘Protect the public by accommodating children ordered to be detained therein in a safe, secure and caring environment; and work to reintegrate children into the community.’”
They were impressed by prompt access to healthcare, individualised education packages, detailed case planning with close involvement of families and very low rates of physical restraint compared to similar providers. The food was good, children could personalise their rooms, and high levels of personal hygiene were facilitated.
“The JJC can offer around 25 hours of education each week per child,” said Dr Maguire. “That is to be commended given the relatively short periods of time that children stay there.”
“Feedback from partner agencies and community providers on the work of the centre was positive and it was recognised as a model of good practice. The buildings were well maintained and security good. It’s important to remember that while Woodlands cares for children it is first and foremost a custodial centre.”
The report recommends that all 17-year-old boys should be transferred from the Young Offenders Centre (YOC) at Hydebank Wood to the JJC.
“This is something we have recommended in a recent inspection reports on the YOC and resettlement within the Northern Ireland Prison Service. Girls have not been held in a YOC since 2008, and while the process has begun for boys, it needs to be completed.
“The transfer of boys under the age of 18 would ‘make best use of the JJC resources’ and provide a better overall service in relation to the custodial care of children in Northern Ireland,” concluded Dr Maguire.
This process would be greatly assisted by reducing the numbers of children being sent to the JJC on remand and on foot of Police and Criminal Evidence proceedings, as well as speeding up the process of youth justice - matters which are beyond control of the JJC.
The inspection was carried out by a multi-disciplinary team from CJI, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority, and the Education and Training Inspectorate.