The Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) has confirmed it was “satisfied” with Extern’s handling of an incident at Roscor Youth Village in which a number of servi1ce-users were caught taking drugs, despite this not being reported to the police.

Situated between Enniskillen and Belleek, the facility opened in 1997 and is described as “a haven of hope for young people who need to take time out from the challenges in their home lives”.

Extern provides services for vulnerable children and young people on both side of the Border, and receives significant funding from both jurisdictions.

It was recently revealed a vulnerable young person referred to Extern for support services was sexually assaulted by their key worker, who was based in the Fermanagh facility, although the incident did not occur on the premises.

The abuser was prosecuted in 2019, and while Extern fully complied with all reporting requirements in Northern Ireland, it did not inform Tusla – the Child and Family Agency in the Republic.

A whistleblower has come forward with further disclosures, including a serious safeguarding incident during a specific project requested by the Western Trust at Roscor Youth Village.

It is claimed in July, 2019, a number of extremely vulnerable, high-risk young people went on a boat trip to an uninhabited island on Lough Erne.

Staff became concerned that some services-users appeared to be under the influence of drugs, and reported this to the Programme Manager.

Despite this, staff were instructed to proceed with the trip as planned – something which put all at serious risk.

Extern was asked why the Programme Manager did not report this to the PSNI, and why did Extern not do so when made aware?

It was also asked why it was not dealt with in line with policies and procedures, and if the trip risk assessment was adhered to, and fit for purpose?

Also, Extern was asked what cognisance was given to staff concerns and the potential for adverse reactions to consumed drugs, given the island was some distance away and across water from the nearest medical facilities?

Furthermore, what retrospective action was taken over the safeguarding failures for both staff and service users?

In response, an Extern spokesperson said: "We can confirm that all relevant and correct procedures were adhered to by Extern in relation to these incidents. All partner agencies involved were fully informed."

As this was a broad response, Extern was asked to answer each question individually, but they refused.

Meanwhile, the Western Trust was asked when it was made aware of the incident, including the PSNI not being alerted, and the Programme Manager’s instruction to proceed with the trip, despite staff concerns around access to medical facilities in the event of illness from drug consumption.

A spokesperson confirmed the overall aim of the project was to positively engage and divert a number of young people known to the Western Trust away from anti-social behaviour.

Built into this was a planned residential trip to Roscor Youth Village, for eight young people.

“The Western Trust was advised that an incident had occurred involving a number of young people smoking cannabis whilst on a camping trip, and that Extern staff planned to return them the following morning.

"On July 23, 2019, all professionals met to debrief and discuss future plans in relation to ongoing support to young people in relation to drug use.

"A detailed report was provided by Extern on the group work programme.”

The spokesperson added: “The Trust is satisfied that Extern staff placed the welfare and safety of the young people at the forefront and responded appropriately and safely to the incident."

When challenged on Extern’s failure to notify the PSNI of drug abuse, particularly as this may have ensured service-users were not being exploited by drug dealers, the Western Trust refused to comment further.

The PSNI has confirmed no report was made in relation to the incident.