Irish Penal Reform Trust

Inspector of Prisons: Report on an Inspection of St Patrick's Institution for Young Offenders

17th October 2012

The Minister for Justice, Alan Shatter, has published a report on an inspection of St Patrick's Institution for Young Offenders, by the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly.

Many serious issues are detailed in the report, including:

  • Forced stripping and clothes being cut from boys and young men when being held in Special Cells. The Inspector refers to the fact that this is especially serious where many of the prisoners in St. Patrick’s may have previously been the victims of physical and/or sexual abuse.
  • Inappropriate and excessive use of Special Cells in violation of the Irish Prison Service’s own guidelines and rules.
  • Excessive and unrecorded use of force by staff against prisoners, in violation of the Irish Prison Service’s own guidelines and rules; disproportionate number of under-18s being relocated using control and restraint (C&R) techniques.
  • Excessive and unauthorised punishment of prisoners, including denying children family visits or phone calls. The Inspector also found practices of undocumented “isolation” of a number of prisoners in solitary confinement for 56 days following an incident at the prison.
  • Bullying and intimidation of young and vulnerable inmates by some staff, and indifference to concerns of inmates, including emergency calls for help. The report records a number of prisoners who were experiencing severe distress and who were afraid to communicate what had happened to them.
  • A completely deficient complaints system where no complaint by a prisoner was upheld, even where prison management had acknowledged that staff had behaved inappropriately. A study of some cases suggested widespread intimidation of prisoners wishing to make a complaint.
  • At a general level, the Inspector also found serious deficiencies in attendance at school, access to healthcare and the availability of training. He also found many parts of the prison cold and dirty.

The report can be downloaded here.

Respect for rights in the penal system with prison as a last resort.



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