Prisoners have access to an external independent complaints and appeal mechanism, including access to a prisoner ombudsman or equivalent.
As prisoners are detained in a closed environment, they are at increased risk of having their human rights violated. Prisoners’ confidence in the complaints system is promoted by the existence of an external independent complaints and appeals mechanism.
The Office of the Ombudsman’s Annual Report 2017  identifies an expectation that the remit of the office would be extended to include prisoner complaints. This was a recommendation made by the Inspector of Prisons and accepted by the Tánaiste in 2016.  As highlighted in Standard 22, the Office of the Ombudsman has been involved in the liaison between the Northern Ireland Prison Service and the Prisoner Ombudsman’s Office to see how the process could work in Ireland.
Indicator S23.1: Prisoners’ access to an independent external complaints mechanism: IPRT has been informed that this is unlikely to happen until 2019,  despite UNCAT (2017) records stating that the timeline for establishing the Ombudsman’s oversight role in the complaints system is by the end of 2017. 
In 2005, the Office of the Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland was established to investigate complaints where prisoners were unhappy with the decision of the Northern Ireland Prison Service.  The system is completely independent of the Northern Ireland Prison Service. Since 2010 visitors can also make a complaint to the Prisoner Ombudsman. 
|Action 23.1:||The State must ensure, as a matter of urgency, that the Office of the Ombudsman is adequately resourced to accept prisoner complaints.|
Office of the Ombudsman, Annual Report 2017, p. 45 http://www.ombudsman.ie/publications/annual-reports/Ombudsman-Annual-Report-2017-ENG-PDF.pdf
Department of Justice and Equality, ‘Tánaiste accepts recommendation to give Ombudsman a role in prisoner complaints’, http://justice.ie/en/JELR/Pages/PR16000125
IPRT was informed about this at a meeting with the Department of Justice and Equality and the Irish Prison Service on the 27th of March 2018
Committee against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, Committee against Torture, Sixtieth session, Summary record of the 1548th meeting, p. 2 available at https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/_layouts/treatybodyexternal/Download.aspx?symbolno=CAT%2fC%2fSR.1548&Lang=en
Northern Ireland Prisoner Ombudsman website, ‘About Us ’ http://www.niprisonerombudsman.gov.uk/index.php/about-us/