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Inspector of Prisons Report on Prisoner Complaints Procedures June 2016

30th June 2016

Evaluation and Analysis of the Operation of the present Irish Prison Service Prisoner Complaints Procedure, June 2016

The inspectors report delves into the efficacy of the current mechanism of prisoner complaints. The inspector found that the majority of the time the complaints were logged and categorised according to the time-frame allotted by IPS standards. However it was noted that of those not logged properly the delays took up to nine weeks. 

Problems noted by the Inspector were in relation to category A complaints (the most serious):

  • That there was either no documentation or incomplete files of the complaints in 23% of the cases.
  • Timelines for investigation into the complaints exceeded the recommended timeline in 38% of cases, ranging from one to seventeen months. 
  • There were sometimes delays in appointing an internal investigator of up to three months.
  • In the majority of cases the findings were not given to the complainant. 
  • Multiple complaints of a serious nature ranging from rape to harassment were not logged or investigated into.

Category B complaints:

  • There were no or incomplete files in 100% of cases in one prison and 78 % of cases in another prison.
  • Prisoners were often transferred prior to an investigation occurring.
  • In a significant number of cases there was insufficient investigation.
  • Procedures were not correctly followed and in the majority of cases findings were not given to the complainant. 

Category C complaints:

  • 39% of cases had no or incomplete documentation with this applying to 82% of such cases in one prison. 

Category D were not evaluated in the report.

The report also notes deficiencies in the complaints system which need to be improved and interferences with the external investigators. Prisoners also alleged a lack of confidence in the system stating that they were encouraged not to complain and that they feared to do so. 

The main recommendation is that prisoners should be entitled to bring their complaints to the Ombudsman, having exhausted internal procedures.

Link to the Review.