Progress in the
Penal System (PIPS)


Progress in the Penal System (or PIPS) is a three-year project of the Irish Penal Reform Trust, Ireland's leading non-governmental organisation campaigning for progressive reform of Irish penal policy.

The purpose of PIPS is to provide a comprehensive analysis of progress in meeting human rights and reaching best practice in the Irish penal system.

The first PIPS report was published in October 2017, and details 35 standards against which the prevailing situation in Ireland's penal system is being independently tracked, monitored and assessed over a three-year period.

PIPS 2018 provides an assessment of progress over the last 12 months against these 35 standards, and assesses whether Ireland is meeting its human rights obligations and meeting best international practice.


The Irish Penal Reform Trust would like to express sincere gratitude to the donor advised family fund and the Community Foundation for Ireland for providing the financial support which made this project and this publication possible.

IPRT would also like to express sincere thanks to the Progress in the Penal System (PIPS) Advisory Group: Professor Aislinn O’Donnell (Chair), Professor Ian O’Donnell, Niall Walsh and David Perry. IPRT would also like to pay tribute to IPRT board members who provided feedback on this report.

The genesis of this project came about through the vision of Seamus Taylor, Joan O’Flynn, Tina Roche and Dr. Kevin Warner.

We would like to thank members of the Irish Prison Service for their active engagement with the PIPS project and the Department of Justice and Equality for meeting with IPRT. IPRT would also like to thank individual prisoners and their families, as well as professional advocates who raised issues with us throughout the year. We hope that this project will make a significant contribution to positively improving the penal system and the lives of those individuals within it.

Responsibility for the content of the report lies solely with the author of the report and IPRT.

Michelle Martyn,
Senior Research & Policy Projects Manager, Irish Penal Reform Trust

List of acronyms

APT Association for the Prevention of Torture
BRIO Building Recovery Inwards and Outwards
CAT Committee against Torture
CEDAW Convention on the Elimination of Discrimination against Women
CMH Central Mental Hospital
CoE Council of Europe
CPT European Committee for the Prevention of Torture
DTC Democratic Therapeutic Communities
ECHR European Convention on Human Rights
ECtHR European Court of Human Rights
EMCDDA European Monitoring Centre for Drugs and Drug Addiction
HIQA Health Information and Quality Authority
HMP Her Majesty’s Prison
HRB Health Research Board
HSE Health Service Executive
HSU High Support Units
ICCPR International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights
IHREC Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission
ILSU Independent Living Skills Unit
IoP Inspector of Prisons
IPS Irish Prison Service
ISM Integrated Sentence Management
MQI Merchants Quay Ireland
MQPL Measuring the Quality of Prison Life
NPM National Preventative Mechanism
OPCAT Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture
PCMI Prison Conditions Monitoring Index
PICLS Prison In-Reach and Court Liaison Service
POA Prison Officers Association
PQ Parliamentary question
QQI Quality and Qualifications Ireland
UNCAT United Nations Convention Against Torture
UTE Units of Therapy and Education
VC Visiting Committee
WHO World Health Organization
IPRT Irish Penal Reform Trust


Copyright 2019 Irish Penal Reform Trust. CHY number: 11091

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