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"New Connections"- Embedding Psychology Services and Practice in the Irish Prison Service, June 2015

30th June 2015

The Irish Prison Service commissioned an independent review of their psychology services, focusing on: how psychologists were allocating their time, and the reasons for this; service gaps; and the roles and perception of psychology in the Irish Prison Service.

The review found that psychology is currently underutilised and difficult to access. The review also examines the ways in which psychology may be effectively integrated into the Irish Prison Service to more effectively provide for rehabilitation and realise specific organisational goals.

Key recommendations from the review:

  • There should be an increase in the number of working psychologists to one for every 150 prisoners;
  • Prisoners who are serving terms of less than two years should be dealt with by way of a plan preparing them for their release from the beginning of their sentence;
  • Longer term prisoners should have a greater involvement with psychology;
  • Screening should take place on committal to prison to assess risks and identify mental health issues;
  • The screening should be used to assess the suitability for reintigrative programmes and to deal with risks;
  • Case management should occur on a continual basis;
  • More strategic methods of service delivery need to be developed, especially in the context of shorter term prisoners. Regard should be had for programmes in other jurisdictions to inform this;
  • The programme targeted at violent offenders available in Wheatfield place of detention should be used in all prisons. This programme should have a short and long term model;
  • Arbour Hill should have its sex offender treatment unit reanalysed so that it can more effectively handle disruptive sex offenders. Additionally, general treatment plans for sex offenders not already engaging in this programme must be developed;
  • Life sentence prisoners need psychological intervention throughout their sentence reparation in the early stage, occupation and service engagement throughout, and step down treatment closer to their release;
  • There is a need to hire a (female) clinical psychologist in the Dóchas Centre with a background in treating vulnerable and multiple-needs women. This psychologist should be able to also work with the women post release;
  • Psychological service provision should be interlinked with education, probation and chaplaincy services;
  • Staff awareness and culture training should be influenced by Senior Psychologists as 'culture change' consultants.

To read the full review, click here

viewed here