Progress in the
Penal System (PIPS)

8: In-cell sanitation

Standard 8:

Every prisoner has 24-hour access to toilet facilities that respect the dignity and privacy of the individual.

Rationale:

In 21st-century Ireland, while the practice of ‘slopping out’ has been almost eradicated, a considerable proportion of prisoners in the estate continue to be forced to toilet in the presence of others.

Current context:

Overall, the reduction in slopping out over the past five years has been significant, from 24.8% of the prison population slopping out in 2012 to 1.3% of the prison population today. [275] In July 2018 the Supreme Court agreed to hear an appeal from an individual prisoner which may have further implications for 1,000 slopping-out cases. [276] The appeal will address important legal issues such as what criteria is applied when determining whether or not treatment of a prisoner is inhuman or degrading. This appeal is against a judgment that found a breach of the constitutional right to privacy and dignity, but no breach of the individual prisoner’s right not to be subjected to inhuman or degrading treatment.

In 2017, the UN Committee against Torture (2017) concluded that the State should“… modernize Limerick prison and ‘Block E’ of Portlaoise prison to eliminate the slopping out system completely”. [277]

Indicators for Standard:

Indicators for Standard 8

Indicator S8.1: Number of prisoners currently slopping out: 56 in April 2017, [278] 53 in April 2018. [279] Latest published census figures from July 2018 show there are currently 58 prisoners slopping out. [280]

Indicator S8.2: Number of prisoners using a toilet in the presence of others: 41% in April 2017, [281] 44% in April 2018. [282] Latest published census figures show that 45% (1,781) of prisoners were toileting in the presence of others. [283]

While IPRT recommended in 2017 that the practice of slopping out be eliminated by the end of 2018, along with a reduction in numbers toileting in the presence of others by one-third, this has not happened.

Actions required:

Action 8.1 The Irish Prison Service must eliminate the practice of slopping out by the end of 2018.
Action 8.2: The Irish Prison Service should reduce the number of prisoners who have to toilet in the presence of others by a third during 2018 with a medium-term goal of ensuring that every prisoner has 24-hour access to a toilet in private.

References:

IPRT Irish Penal Reform Trust

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