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Costa signals progress on juvenile detention centre

The Gibraltar Government is pushing ahead with a plan to provide a detention centre for juvenile offenders and has already identified “a potential location”, Justice Minister Neil Costa has told Parliament yesterday.

Gibraltar’s courts use custody as a last resort for juvenile offenders but when detention becomes necessary, the only option is the adult at prison Windmill Hill because Gibraltar lacks specialist facilities for youngsters.

The establishment of alternative provision for young offenders is a long-standing matter which was recently placed under the spotlight by a series of cases involving juveniles being detained at the adult prison.

In answer to Opposition questions yesterday, Mr Costa confirmed that the Government is actively looking at the possibility of alternative provision for young offenders.

He explained that consultations are already ongoing between the relevant government departments and agencies with a view to finding a satisfactory solution.

“At the present stage, we have identified a potential location which we are actively considering to determine if they are suitable to provide a secure accommodation and a detention centre,” Mr Costa told MPs.


In answer to a number of questions tabled by a cross-section of MPs on justice and policing related matters, Mr Costa also addressed the subject of manning levels at the Royal Gibraltar Police.

He said: “The Government is in receipt of a business case from the RGP which deals with matters relating to human resources.”
“Government is presently actively considering the business case in close consultation with the Commissioner of Police and the RGP federation.”

GSD MP Elliott Phillips, who holds shadow responsibility for justice, pressed on the subject and asked Mr Costa if he would agree with a Gibraltar Police Federation statement describing the RGP as “woefully undermanned”.

In response, Mr Costa flagged how under the present administration RGP resources or man power had increased by 30%.

The cost to the public purse of perusing an appeal in the Marrache parole case amounted to more that £100,000.

Mr Costa told the House that £35,666.99 was paid to local law firm Isola’s while £68,590 was paid to Blackstone Chambers in the UK in respect of the case which stems from a decision to release convicted fraudster Isaac Marrache from prison on parole.

Mr Costa was represented by Lord Pannick, QC, one of the UK’s leading barristers, before the Court of Appeal.

The appeal had been filed after former Puisne Judge Adrian Jack ruled that the minister had “no power” to end court proceedings he had initiated challenging the Parole Board’s decision to release Marrache.

Marrache had served a third of his jail term when his parole application was approved by the Parole Board, in line with Gibraltar law.
Mr Costa had been uncomfortable with the decision after hearing Marrache planned to travel to New York and work in the financial sector upon release.

He asked the Supreme Court to review the decision, only to later withdraw the application on receiving new documentation about the case.

But the Mr Justice Jack ruled that the minister, having filed the case in court, could not then discontinue it, adding that to do so could potentially open the door to future interference in decisions that should rightly be the preserve of the Supreme Court or the Parole Board.

It was that ruling that was successfully appealed by the minister.

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