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Press Release: IPRT – More training in conflict resolution needed to tackle violence in Irish prisons

19th April 2018

Press Release: IPRT – More training in conflict resolution needed to tackle violence in Irish prisons

Prisons should be a safe place, both for prisoners and for prison officers, and the best way to tackle violence and defuse tension is to invest in training in conflict resolution and de-escalation techniques. That’s according to Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT), Deirdre Malone, commenting on the issue raised by the Irish Prison Officers Association at its annual conference.

A review of assaults on prison staff published by the State Claims Agency in 2016 found that there were 93 prisoner-on-staff assaults in 2015. Some 587 prisoner-on–prisoner assaults were recorded in the same period.

The review found that “a relatively small number of prisoners carried out these assaults, and that those who did, had an established pattern of challenging behaviours and/or mental health problems” with substance abuse and mental illness acknowledged as a contributing factor in some cases.

Speaking today, Ms Malone said: “Any act of violence in Irish prisons, whether visited on a member of prison staff or on a prisoner, is unacceptable and needs to be addressed urgently. Preventing and reducing violence requires a multi-level approach which addresses the root causes of such violence.”

“The establishment of a national violent and disruptive prisoner unit planned to open in 2018 is a welcome development. We endorse the previous recommendations of the State Claims Agency that the IPS should focus its emphasis on the management of prisoner behaviours using conflict resolution techniques to deescalate situations that could lead to physical violence through further training and selection of staff. We also welcome the recommendation to extend, as far as possible, existing arrangements to take prisoners with serious mental health issues out of the prison system for care in more appropriate locations.”

ENDS

Contact: Sebastian Enke, DHR Communications, Tel: 01-4200580 / 087-3239496

Note to Editors:

• Deirdre Malone is available for interviews on request.

About the IPRT

Established in 1994, the Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) is Ireland's leading non-governmental organisation campaigning for rights in the penal system and the progressive reform of Irish penal policy. Its vision is one of respect for rights in the penal system, with prison as a last resort. IPRT is committed to respecting the rights of everyone in the penal system and to reducing imprisonment. It is working towards progressive reform of the penal system based on evidence-led policies and on a commitment to combating social injustice.

IPRT publishes a wide range of policy positions and research documents; it campaigns vigorously across a wide range of penal policy issues; and has established itself as the leading independent voice in public debate on the Irish penal system.

Learn more