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Prison Visiting Committee Annual Reports 2012: Cork, Limerick, Arbour Hill, Midlands, Shelton Abbey

10th June 2013

On the 7th June 2013, the Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, published the 2012 annual reports of the Prison Visiting Committees for Cork, Limerick, Arbour Hill, Midlands and Shelton Abbey.

The reports may be accessed here:

Cork Prison Visiting Committee Annual Report 2012

  • Prisoners mainly contacted the Committee concerning transfers to other prisons for family reasons, medical problems, problems with other prisoners and problems with staff.
  • The Committee noted the ‘constant and unacceptable overcrowding problem’ in the prison which is not conducive to active rehabilitation and training.
  • The Committee also highlighted the ‘archaic and Dickensian conditions in some parts of the prison’, stating that the prison is not fit for its purpose. They did however welcome commitments to a new prison that they hope will resolve overcrowding issues, slopping out and meet international standards and human rights criteria.
  • A broad curriculum and wide range of workshops are available in the prison, and there is a commitment to best practice in the Education and Training Unit and individual programmes.
  • The Committee expressed concern about the housing of mentally ill prisoners in ‘totally inadequate’ conditions which seriously compromises IPS’s stated commitment to human dignity and care.

Limerick Prison Visiting Committee Annual Report 2012

  • With an operational capacity (men and women) of 248, the Committee congratulates the prison on reducing numbers in custody from 352 in February 2012 to 245 in February 2013.
  • The Committee refers to complaints raised with the Governor that were ‘frustrating for the prisoners concerned’ but were nevertheless in accordance with the Prison Rules; information is lacking, however, in regard to whether the issues raised were resolved or what the reasons were for the frustration on the part of the prisoners.
  • The death of a young man alone in his cell is regretted, but is not explained further or investigated by the Committee.
  • Despite a small reduction in the overall number of prisoners on protection, there has in fact been a small proportionate increase given the reduction in the total numbers.
  • The school and its teachers are highly praised by the Committee, but operational difficulties that limit the numbers attending are noted.

Arbour Hill Visiting Committee Annual Report 2012

  • The prison is described as clean and hygienic, with a high quality of food provided to the prisoners; the catering department were again in 2012 awarded the EIQA Emerald Award – National Winner.
  • On every visit, the workshops and school were fully operational, despite reducing staff numbers. 76% of prisoners participate in courses in the education department.
  •  The Building Better Lives Programme replaced the original Sex Offender Treatment Programme in 2009. There are currently over 130 prisoners participating in the programme, implemented by seven psychologists.
  • There were no deaths, suicide attempts or incidents of self-inflicted injury in the prison in 2012. 
  • Staff availability for Integrated Sentence Management was reduced in 2012 as a result of the ‘Transformation Process’.

Midlands Prison Visiting Committee Annual Report 2012

  • The Committee met with thirty prisoners during the course of the year, who raised issues relating to visitor searches, inter-prison transfers, loss of clothing, temporary release escorts on compassionate grounds, complaints regarding staff members and health care issues.
  • The Probation Service, in conjunction with the Irish Prison Service, have developed ‘The Living with Life Forum’ for life sentenced prisoners to equip themselves with information and skills to serve their life sentence with a positive and social outlook.
  • New G and E wings were opened in 2012, as was a new kitchen which provides work/training for an increased number of prisoners; it is also a necessity in order to service the increasing number of prisoners in Midlands Prison.
  • Some prisoners during 2012 had issues with their medical treatment. The Committee understands that another full time doctor will be joining the team in 2013 which should alleviate any issues.
  • The Committee commended the psychology team and the chaplaincy for their work with the increasing number of prisoners.

Shelton Abbey Visiting Committee Annual Report 2012

  • No prisoner requested to meet the Committee during 2012.
  • 24 offenders absconded from Shelton Abbey in 2012 as opposed to 45 in 2011.
  • A total of 234 offenders enrolled for education courses in 2012.
  • Shelton Abbey again provided the quarantine for 300 Bóthar goats in 2012. In addition, 21 calves were cared for by the inmates on the farm and the prisoners also planted, looked after and sold bedding plants.
  • The Probation Service, health care, addiction counselling, catering and chaplaincy services were all satisfactory, but there has been no full time psychologist since October 2010.
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