MEDIA RELEASE

IMMEDIATE RELEASE: 29.05.2017 11:30am

Audit into the use of Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991 by An Garda Síochána identifies a crucial need for an out-of-hours social work service

EPIC welcomes the publication of the audit into the use of Section 12 by An Garda Síochána by Dr. Geoffrey Shannon, Special Rapporteur on Child Protection. This audit, the first of its kind in Ireland, is an encouraging step towards greater transparency and accountability of An Garda Síochána in its use of exceptional powers. This in-depth analysis of removals of children from the care of their parents, guardians, or persons acting in loco parentis demonstrate that Gardaí generally acted reasonably and responded appropriately in challenging circumstances.

EPIC is however seriously concerned by the poor levels of inter-agency cooperation and collaboration between An Garda Síochána and Tusla. This report shows that Gardaí were often kept in the dark about the progress of cases once they had handed children over to the care of Tusla. Ensuring that the child receives adequate care and protection is paramount, and efficient inter-agency work is crucial to conform to child protection best practice. In addition, EPIC is alarmed by the reliance of Tusla on a private fostering service, to fulfil part of their out-of-hours service. It is unacceptable to rely on a private provider when they do not have the obligation to take in all children removed under Section 12, and can refuse to take in children demonstrating challenging behaviour.

Speaking following the publication of the report, Director of EPIC, Terry Dignan made the following comments:

EPIC is concerned by the reliance on private providers to provide an out-of-hours service when they are not required to cater for complex situations. We concur with Dr. Shannon’s findings that a national out-of-hours service is necessary for the State to fulfil its child protection obligations, and that expansion of Special Child Protection Units within An Garda Síochána would be of great help, as they would prevent vulnerable children spending time in unsuitable surrounding such as Garda stations and hospitals.”

“EPIC further supports this audit in underlining the importance of adequate child protection training of all members of An Garda Síochána, to ensure they are supported in their use of Section 12 powers. We also trust that Tusla will address the poor inter-agency collaboration identified in this report to guarantee children receive the care and protection they need.”

This audit demonstrates the need for appropriate data collection by An Garda Síochána, especially through the PULSE system, to ensure full accountability in the use of exceptional powers in very challenging circumstances, and EPIC hopes there will be greater communication of child protection data between An Garda Síochána and Tusla to better protect children. Data collection will also protect children and families against discrimination, perceived or otherwise, and will enable informed policy-making and policing practices.

EPIC is an independent organisation that provides an advocacy service throughout the Republic of Ireland, with and for children and young people who are currently living in care or who have experience of living in care.

-ENDS-

For all media enquiries please contact:

Charlotte Farrar, EPIC Communications Manager 

Telephone: 01 8727 661 Mobile: 085 818 0678      

Email: charlottefarrar@epiconline.ie   

 

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