- Progress in the Penal System (PIPS) - https://pips.iprt.ie -

24: Inspections and monitoring

Standard 24:

Structures are in place for the regular inspection and monitoring of prisons. Inspection reports are made publicly available within a clear timeframe.


Monitoring and inspection of places of detention are central to the protection of human rights of prisoners. The creation of independent monitoring bodies is an important factor in reducing torture. [532]

Current context:

Establishing a National Preventative Mechanism (NPM) as part of the ratification of the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture (OPCAT) is crucial to preventing ill-treatment. The importance of an effective NPM has also been highlighted by Penal Reform International (PRI) (2018):

Through preventive monitoring, National Preventative Mechanisms in particular can assess individual cases to identify systemic issues leading to serious incidents in a given prison or a wider prison system. [533]

This point again underscores the importance of frequent domestic inspections and published reports.

Indicators for Standard:

Indicators for Standard 24

Indicator S24.1: The State’s ratification of OPCAT and establishment of a National Preventative Mechanism: Not ratified: Ireland is one of only two EU countries which have signed but not yet ratified the OPCAT. Afghanistan acceded to the OPCAT in April 2018. [534]

At the UNCAT hearing, the Government committed that “the bill [Inspection of Places of Detention] concerning the ratification for the Optional Protocol would be submitted to parliament in 2018”. [535]

Indicator S24.2: Frequency of publication of Inspector of Prisons reports: In 2017, the Inspector of Prisons published an Annual Report for 2015 and 2016. There has been no published prison inspection report in the last 12 months. Below is a breakdown of the most recent prison inspection reports of the Inspector of Prisons published by the Department of Justice and Equality:

Detention Centre: Most recent published IoP Inspection Report [536]:
Arbour Hill 2012
Castlerea Prison 2009
Cloverhill Prison 2006
Cork Prison 2007
Dóchas Centre 2013 (Interim[537])
Limerick Prison 2012
Loughan House 2014
Midlands Prison 2006
Mountjoy Prison 2011, 2014 [538]
Portlaoise Prison 2007
Shelton Abbey 2006
St Patrick’s Institution (now part of Mountjoy) 2012
Training Unit (now closed) 2017
Wheatfield Place of Detention 2007

Indicator S24.3: Reform of Prison Visiting Committees: There has been no published information on possible reform (e.g. standardisation of reports, appointment of committee members) of Prison Visiting Committees since 2017.

Actions required:

Action 24.1: The Minister for Justice and Equality should expedite the introduction of legislation so that Ireland can ratify the OPCAT by the end of 2018.
Action 24.2: Legislators should progress the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill and ensure thorough pre-legislative scrutiny.
Action 24.3: The Office of the Inspector of Prisons should have an annual programme of independent prison inspections followed by published reports, and be adequately resourced to do so.
Action 24.4: The Department of Justice and Equality should reform the Prison Visiting Committees, including the appointment of members with multi-disciplinary expertise through the Public Appointments Service.