Prisoners are detained in the least restrictive prison security settings as determined through risk assessment.
Having access to less restrictive prison security settings is important as it provides for the ‘normalisation’ principle, thus reducing the risk of institutionalisation and facilitating the transition back to life outside prison.
Low-security detention facilities were identified as an investment need by the IPS in its Capital Strategy 2016–2021:
For the estate as a whole however there will be a need to significantly upgrade existing, and develop a small number of new open, semi-open or low-security centres in appropriate locations to supplement the minimal existing low-security capacity and its sub-optimal location and accessibility in the country.
No new low-security facilities have been established across the estate in 2018–2019 – this includes independent living skills units (ILSUs), with no new ILSUs set up in this period.
Indicator S5.1: The number of prisoners accommodated in low-security settings.
On 31 May 2019, 661 prisoners out of a prison population of 4,018 were accommodated in low-security settings.
Prisoners accommodated in low-security settings (n.)
|Area/Unit||Total number of prisoners (as of 31 May 2019)|
|The Grove and enhanced landings, Castlerea||80|
|The Progression Unit, Mountjoy||152|
|ILSUs and enhanced landings||169|
|Enhanced landings, Midlands||38|
There are some areas across the prison estate where prisoners can be accommodated in less restrictive settings. This allows for prisoners to be held in environments that encourage and maintain life skills, thereby reducing the risk of institutionalisation. However, despite it being an objective of the IPS in its Capital Plan 2016–2021, 2018–2019 has seen no increase in the number of low-security centres across the prison estate.
|Action 5.1:||The IPS should conduct a review of current security levels and regime levels across the prison estate, with a view to expanding access to less restrictive settings (based on a risk assessment of the prison population).|
CoE Committee of Ministers (2003), Recommendation Rec(2003)23 of the Committee of Ministers to Member States on the Management by Prison Administrations of Life Sentence and Other Long-term Prisoners, Principle 4, https://www.ochrance.cz/fileadmin/user_upload/ochrana_osob/Umluvy/vezenstvi/R_2003_23_management_of_life_sentence_ and_long-term_prisoners.pdf.
CoE (2016), Situation of Life-Sentenced Prisoners, European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, https://rm.coe.int/16806cc447.
IPS, Capital Strategy 2016–2021 p.26 http://www.irishprisons.ie/wp-content/uploads/documents_pdf/capital_strategy_2016.pdf.
Source: Information provided by the Irish Prisons Service, 5 July 2019 and 20 August 2019.