Sinn Féin justice spokesperson Raymond McCartney MLA said custody is still not being used as a last resort for children.
The Foyle MLA was speaking after inspectors from the Criminal Justice Inspection expressed concern at the rise in the number of children admitted on a short-term basis to the Juvenile Justice Centre, both under Police and Criminal Evidence (PACE) proceedings and from a ‘Looked After’ residential care background, compared to three years ago.
Raymond McCartney said:
“We note the positive aspects of the report and the good work carried out by staff in the Juvenile Justice Centre and Sinn Féin will continue to support their efforts in creating a first-class service.
“However, there are aspects of the report where concerns are raised for instance, 50 percent of children admitted to custody under PACE proceedings were released within 24 hours.
“Sinn Féin are becoming increasingly concerned that these powers are not used as a measure of last resort, in line with the UNCRC, but instead have been employed in the absence of alternative accommodation particularly for children with complex needs or challenging behaviour.
“The Juvenile Justice Centre should not be used in this way.
“This longstanding issue needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency.”