- 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.

Rationale:

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.

References: