Report on services for kids in garda custody

A report published today on the experiences of children in Garda custody highlighted the lack of adequate facilities for interviewing children and said improvements must be a priority.

The study, carried out for the Police Department by the UCC School of Law, found that some children had negative experiences of detention in Garda before or during the interviews.

Children, it is said, are particularly at risk when interviewed by gardaí and have the right to be treated with child-friendly communication and language in an age-appropriate manner.

The report also highlights a child’s ability to exercise their right to legal advice or to waive their right to a lawyer.

It should be noted that practical problems often arise when a parent or legal guardian is not available to visit a Garda station and that further legal guidance could clarify this problem.

According to the report, the experience of the child in custody often depends on the approach of the individual officer and special measures should be taken for children with learning difficulties and additional vulnerabilities.

Allegations of ill-treatment, including physical and verbal abuse, are a matter of serious concern and require urgent action.

According to the report, all professionals who work with children, including gardaí and the lawyers who advise the children, need additional specialized training.

It is said that detaining children in Garda custody should only be a last resort and that the facilities in train stations should be improved.

It is said that a zero-tolerance approach should be adapted to any abuse of children and that specialist training should be developed for gardaí and lawyers.

It is also recommended to better monitor children’s rights during questioning and to conduct further research into Garda interviews with suspects.

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