IPRT - Irish Penal Reform Trust

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High Court Judgement on 'Slopping Out'

14th September 2017

A significant court judgment in relation to prison conditions was delivered in the High Court yesterday (Wed 13th Sept 2017). IPRT welcomes the finding that the prisoner's rights had been breached, and that negative practices such as doubling up in cells with no in-cell sanitation when prisoners were on 23-hour lock-up were criticised. We look forward to considering the final written judgment in detail.

IPRT has campaigned for the elimination of slopping out in prisons in Ireland since 1994. Standards for prison accommodation set by the Council of Europe European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment (CPT) state clearly that:

“Each cell should possess a toilet and a washbasin as a minimum. In multiple-occupancy cells the sanitary facilities should be fully partitioned (i.e. up to the ceiling). In those few prisons where no in-cell sanitary facilities are available, the authorities must ensure that prisoners have ready access to the toilet whenever needed. Today, no prisoner in Europe should be obliged to “slop out”, a practice that is degrading both for the prisoners and for the staff members who have to supervise such a procedure.”

Substantial progress on decreasing the number of prisoners ‘slopping out’ in the Irish prison estate has been made in recent years, from over 1,000 men in 2011 to 60 in July 2017. It is important now that progress is maintained to ensure the State meets its commitment to eliminating the practice of slopping out across the prison estate by 2020. IPRT further advocates that the number of prisoners “required to use the toilet in the presence of another prisoner” must also be reduced: 1,568 prisoners in July 2017.

For the July 2017 Census on in-cell sanitation in prisons in Ireland, click here.

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