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Incident at Cloverhill Prison [updated]

29th July 2015

[Updated 5 Aug 2015]

IPRT is highly concerned at reports of a serious incident which took place at Cloverhill Prison on Wed 29 July 2015, which resulted in the serious assault of one prisoner, and the injury of a number of other prisoners. Media reports suggest that up to 10 prisoners were hospitalised following the incident. IPRT notes that the Director General of the Irish Prison Service commended the management and staff of Cloverhill Prison for their management of the incident.

IPRT calls for an independent, effective and prompt investigation by the Inspector of Prisons to be initiated under s31(2) of the Prisons Act 2007 to investigate the circumstances of the incident, including any use of force by prison staff, and for the report to be made public when concluded. This should take place alongside the internal investigation by the Irish Prison Service and the criminal investigation by An Garda Síochána.

It is crucial that the full circumstances surrounding the incident are established. Although we do not know the circumstances that contributed to events at Cloverhill, IPRT notes that poor conditions and overcrowding, where they occur, can contribute to tensions which can place both staff and prisoners at risk.

The most recent report available for Cloverhill Prison is the Visiting Committee Annual Report 2013, published 30th April 2014, which raised concerns about overcrowding. The Prisons Visiting Committee for Cloverhill Prison was not among the 11 annual reports published in May 2015. There has been no report by the Inspector of Prisons on Cloverhill Prison published in recent years.

Robust accountability mechanisms play a crucial preventative role in any prison system. Key elements include:

  1. Regular inspection reports, which are made public, to identify the issues that need to be addressed before conditions become such that tensions arise;
  2. Robust independent investigations into serious incidents that do occur (with reports made public), to ensure accountability, consequences, and the prevention of future incidents;
  3. An independent complaints mechanism in which prisoners and prison staff alike have confidence is also crucial to defusing tensions in prison.

NOTES:

Figures:

There were 369 men detained in Cloverhill Prison today: http://www.irishprisons.ie/images/dailynumbers/29_july_2015.pdf

Assaults:

In 2014, there were:

  • 90 recorded prisoner on prisoner assaults in Cloverhill Prison
  • 20 prisoner on staff assaults in Cloverhill Prison

Details on the number of Prisoner on Prisoner Assaults and Prisoner Assaults on Staff across all 14 prisons during 2014 are available here (see table 3).

Cell sharing:

The recent census of Cloverhill Prison, from April 2015, states there were 339 men detained:

  • 68 in single cells;
  • 132 sharing double-cells;
  • 135 in triple-cells;
  • 4 men sharing one cell.

Of the 339 prisoners detained, 68 had 24-hour access to private toilet facilities. No men had to slop out. See: http://www.irishprisons.ie/images/monthlyinfonote/apr15_incell.pdf

Monitoring:

The most recent report available is the Cloverhill Prison Visiting Committee Annual Report 2013, which was published 30th April 2014: http://bit.ly/1KAiNsu Issues identified in the report include:

  • Overcrowding: “This has led to inmates sleeping with 3 or 4 per cell and sometimes having to sleep on floors”
  • Use of the prison for immigration detainees awaiting asylum or deportation: “The committee would be of the opinion that they should be held not in prison but elsewhere as this puts added pressure on the overcrowding.”
  • Health scares, including outbreaks of TB
  • Insufficient laundry facilities
  • Unfilled training posts
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