The 'Fourth Report of the Implementation Oversight Group to the Minister for Justice and Equality' has been published by the Department of Justice and is available to read here.
As a background, the Penal Policy Review Group (PPRG) was established in 2012 to conduct a wide-ranging strategic review of penal policy. Their report, Strategic Review of Penal Policy recommended that an implementation and oversight mechanism should be established to report on the progress of the PPRG’s recommendations stemming from the report.
Owing to this, the Implementation Oversight Group was established in early 2015. Its primary function is to report to the Minister, on a six monthly basis, on the implementation status of the recommendations of the PPRG.
There were 43 recommendations made by the PPRG, however, some have been recognized to have more than one element. It was decided by the Implementation Oversight Group, for the May 2017 report, that there were 59 areas where progress could be assessed.
In previous reports, the implementation of the recommendations was assessed as either ‘complete’, ‘on track’, or ‘not complete’. In the fourth report, this mechanism of categorisation has been expanded into an A-E scale, which offers more detail. Of the 59 areas where progress was assessed, 3 are in the ‘A’ category, 19 are in the ‘B’ category, 15 are in the ‘C’ category, 21 are in the ‘D’ category and 1 is in the ‘E’ category. However, recommendation 12, which currently lies in the ‘E’ category, is an area which the relevant parties have decided not to progress with. This was a recommendation that provision for community service in lieu of part of a sentence of imprisonment in excess of one year be introduced on a statutory basis.
Within each recommendation, there are a number of milestones by which the recommendation’s progress can be monitored. In the first report of the Implementation Oversight Group, 70 milestones were deemed complete, while in the fourth progress report, 194 milestones have been deemed complete.
Milestones that have been met specifically in the period covered by the fourth report include:
- The Irish Prison Service launching a policy regarding restricted regimes and solitary confinement;
- The decision was made to proceed with step-down facilities for women;
- Report completed on sentence management for life sentence prisoners;
- Review of Education Programmes;
- Project on committal rate for women commenced;
- Discussions commenced with housing providers on pathways for accommodation for high-risk offenders leaving custody;
- Review of the threshold for the application of presumptive minimum sentences.
Further areas of progress on the implementation of the Penal Policy Review Group’s recommendations since completion of the Implementation Oversight Group’s fourth report in May 2017 include:
- The Criminal Justice (Victims of Crime) Act 2017, the legislation necessary to implement the EU Victims of Crime Directive in Irish law has since been signed into law (Recommendation 7);
- A formal tendering process has now been instigated for the development of an open centre for women (Recommendations 18 and 23).
Read the Strategic Review of Penal Policy recommendations list here.