Research report into the number of children removed to a place of safety by An Garda Síochána is published by NUI Galway

Friday, 14 May 2021

NUI Galway Tulsa

A total of 452 cases relating to 392 children and young people between 1st July 2016 and 30th June 2017 were included in this study

For a majority of these children and young people the need for Section 12 arises from parental issues and behaviours

A vulnerable group identified in the course of this research was young people, specifically those aged 15–17

Research from the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway has been published in a new report. In 2017, the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, requested Tusla - Child and Family Agency, to commission new research into the number of children who have been subject to a Section 12, meaning that they have been removed to a place of safety by an Garda Síochána.

Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991 is invoked when a member of An Garda Síochána has reasonable grounds for believing that (a) there is the immediate and serious risk to the health or welfare of a child and (b) it would not be sufficient for the protection of the child from such immediate and serious risk to await the making of the application for the emergency care order by Tusla under section 13.

The research, led by Dr Carmel Devaney, Dr Rosemary Crosse, Dr Leonor Rodriguez, and Dr Charlotte Silke of the UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre at NUI Galway, was infomed by anonymised data on 452 Section 12 incidents during the period 1 July 2016 to 30 June 2017, and 28 semi-structured interviews with Tusla staff.

The research found that:

  • A total of 452 Section 12s relating to 392 children and young people between 1st July 2016 and 30th June 2017 were included in this study. The majority of these children and young people were subject to one Section 12 in this time period.
  • For a majority of these children and young people the need for Section 12 arises from parental issues and behaviours. This evidence suggests a strong need to increase the provision of early intervention parent and family support services for children, young people, and families, to reduce vulnerability and to respond to needs in a timely manner, and avoiding the need for one or more Section 12s.
  • A vulnerable group identified in the course of this research was young people, specifically those aged 15–17. Such findings necessitate further exploration of the needs of this age group (who have the highest incidence of Section 12s) and provision of appropriate resources and training for staff of both Tusla and An Garda Síochána on responding to the needs of this group.

Lead author of the report, Dr Carmel Devaney, UNESCO Child and Family Research Centre, NUI Galway, said: "This research highlights a need for increased emergency placements for young people who have been removed to a place of safety by An Garda Síochána. It also emphasises the need to support parents and young people at an earlier stage so that this type of situation does not arise. Critically, it recommends giving An Garda Síochána the power to access support from extended family members in these circumstances, which would lessen the use of inappropriate placements for children and young people."

The research commission request arose after the publication of ‘Audit of the exercise by An Garda Síochána of the provisions of Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991’ prepared by Dr Geoffrey Shannon for the Garda Commissioner in 2017. This report did not audit Tusla’s actions after invoking Section 12, however, a number of the recommendations within the Shannon Report related to Tusla policies and procedures in relation to Section 12 and Section 13 of the Child Care Act 1991.

The full report and an executive summary of 'Tusla - Child and Family Agency’s actions and decision-making process following An Garda Síochána’s application of Section 12 of the Child Care Act 1991' can be read in full at: http://www.childandfamilyresearch.ie/cfrc/publications/policyreports/.
 
Feedback and further queries on the report can be emailed to the National Research Office at trc@tusla.ie.

-Ends-

Keywords: Press.

Author: Marketing and Communications Office, NUI Galway
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