Progress in the
Penal System (PIPS)

8: In-cell sanitation (2019)

Standard 8:

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


Every person in prison should be able to avail of toilet facilities in private; this is a recognised universal minimum standard. The European Prison Rules state that all prisoners should have access to sanitary facilities that are hygienic and respect the prisoner’s privacy.[190]

Current context:

The practice of ‘slopping out’ in Irish prisons has largely declined, though it still takes place in Portlaoise and Limerick prisons.

The current development of new accommodation in Limerick Prison will replace outdated accommodation that has no in-cell sanitation.[191] These facilities are expected to be complete by February 2021.[192]

While the practice of slopping out is abolished, nearly 45% of the prison population continue to toilet in the presence of others. Toileting in the presence of others has been cited as a factor in cases where the European Court of Human Rights (ECtHR) has upheld violations under Article 3 (prohibition of inhuman or degrading treatment)[(footnote num=193)].

Indicators for Standard:

Indicators for Standard 8

Indicator S8.1: As of July 2019, 60 (1.5%) prisoners were slopping out.
As of July 2019, 60 (1.5%) prisoners were slopping out.[194]

Indicator S8.2: Number of prisoners toileting in the presence of others.

There are currently 1,886 (47%) prisoners toileting in the presence of other as of July 2019. This compares to 1,781 (45%) in July 2018 and 1,527 (42%) in January 2017.[195]


2019 has seen a slight increase in the actual number of prisoners slopping out, as well a significant increase in prisoners toileting in the presence of others. These increases are reflective of the overall increase in daily prison population numbers. IPRT welcomes the significant reduction in the practice of slopping out from 24.8% in 2012 to 1.5% in 2019.[196] However, this practice should be viewed as an archaic feature of the prison estate, and its continued existence reflects quite poorly on a prison system in the 21st century.

Only through working towards the continued goal of imprisonment as a last resort, thereby reducing prison population numbers, will all prisoners throughout the estate have access to private toilet facilities.

Status of Standard 8: Regress

Actions required:

Action 8.1: The Department of Justice and Equality and the IPS must work towards reducing the number of people toileting in the presence of others, including the introduction of single-cell policies. (see Standard 9)


Irish Penal Reform Trust


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