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IPRT calls for “swift and decisive action” on implementing recommendations of Prison Culture Report

3rd November 2015

The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) has called for “swift and decisive action” on implementation of the recommendations included in the Prison Culture Report, published today (Tuesday 3rd November 2015). 

Culture and Organisation in the Irish Prison Service: A Road Map for the Future (‘Prison Culture Report’) was launched by Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD. IPRT welcomes the support that Minister Fitzgerald has shown for the review process, conducted by the Inspector of Prisons Judge Michael Reilly in collaboration with Prof Andrew Coyle.

The Prison Culture Report identifies issues around organisational coherence and identity; accountability structures; staff training and supports; paths of career progression; a blurring of lines of responsibility between management and trade unions; and a culture which at times permits inappropriate behaviour and language by staff.

A series of reports by the Inspector of Prisons on investigations into deaths occurring in prison custody has previously identified recurring failures in prison accountability and management structures in Irish prisons.

Responding today, IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone said:

“Prison management, prison officers and trade unions each have a responsibility to work together within their respective roles towards their common goals: a humane prison system and a safer community for all. It is crystal clear from this report that gaps in essential training, support and performance management of officers can lead to very poor outcomes for both prisoners and staff.

“While its publication today is to be welcomed, the real success of the Report will stand or fall on its implementation. A mechanism to ensure findings and recommendations are acted upon is absent from the review. IPRT calls for an early indication that the IPS, the Prison Officers Association and prison staff intend to act swiftly and decisively to make these recommendations a reality.

“This Review provides an important contribution to improving the penal system and should operate to renew government commitments to implement the recommendations of the Strategic Review on Penal Policy. However its publication does not diminish in any way the urgent need for robust, independent and effective accountability mechanisms in the Irish prison system.”

On publication of the report, IPRT affirms its support for the recommendations, including that:

  • Clear lines of accountability must be provided and enforced
  • A Code of Ethics for Prison Staff should be developed and implemented
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IPRT notes that the Prison Culture Report forms a part of a wider process of reform of the Irish penal system, which demands the full implementation of recommendations of the cross-agency Strategic Review of Penal Policy (Sept 2014). A key aspect not adequately addressed by either process is the critical need for a robust and effective independent complaints mechanisms in the Irish prison system.

IPRT will host a conference on Monitoring, Inspection, and Complaints in the Irish prison system in the Spencer Hotel, Dublin 1 on Friday 27th November 2015. More details are included below.

For further comment or an interview with IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone, contact Fíona on: 087 181 2990

NOTES:

1. Prison Culture Report

Culture and Organisation in the Irish Prison Service: A Road Map for the Future’ was conducted by the Inspector of Prisons Judge Michael Reilly in collaboration with Professor Andrew Coyle. The reportwas launched by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Frances Fitzgerald TD, on Tuesday 3rd November 2015.

2. Announcement of the Review

The Inspector of Prisons announced on 16th Feb 2015 that, in accordance with Section 31(2) of the Prisons Act 2007, he has embarked on a review of the Irish Prison Service: “To carry out an assessment of the current culture within the Irish Prison Service and the extent to which it facilitates or hinders the development of the service.” The full statement is available here: http://inspectorofprisons.gov.ie/en/IOP/IOP-Review2015.pdf/Files/IOP-Review2015.pdf

3. IPRT Conference | 27 Nov 2015 | Securing Accountability

IPRT will hold a conference on Monitoring, Inspection, and Complaints in the Irish prison system in the Spencer Hotel, Dublin 1 on Friday 27th November 2015. Speakers will include:

  • HM Chief Inspector of Prisons, Nick Hardwick
  • Professor Malcolm Evans, Chair of the UN Subcommittee for the Prevention of Torture
  • Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly
  • Professor Andrew Coyle, Emeritus Professor of Prison Studies in the University of London
  • Dr Mary Rogan, Dublin Institute of Technology
  • Dr Cormac Behan, University of Sheffield

Details available here: http://www.iprt.ie/contents/2792

4. Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) | www.iprt.ie

IPRT is Ireland's leading non-governmental organisation campaigning for the rights of everyone in prison and the progressive reform of Irish penal policy, with prison as a last resort.

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