Progress in the
Penal System (PIPS)

28: Prisoner escorts

Standard 28:

The health and welfare of prisoners is prioritised while they are under escort.


In response to the issues observed by the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (ECPT) in many European jurisdictions, including overreliance on restraint, substandard basic safety requirements, and unnecessarily long periods of confinement during transport, [599] the ECPT published a factsheet to ensure that transportation of detainees is undertaken in a humane, safe and secure manner. [600]

Current context:

In 2017, the Department of Justice and Equality completed a Value for Money and Policy Review of Prisoner Escort Services. However this review is yet to be published.

Indicators for Standard:

Indicators for Standard 28

Indicator S28.1: Independent inspections of prisoner escort services: No independent inspection of prison escort services has been published in Ireland. The ratification of OPCAT would provide for inspections of all forms of places of detention, including prisoner escorts.

Indicator S28.2: Publication of data on escorts including: numbers, distance, frequency and reason for escort, analysis of any impact on local prison staffing and regimes, recording of delays or cancellations of court or hospital appointments, lengths of time prisoners are held in cellular vehicles, adequate provision of rest breaks, complaints received while under escort and conditions of vehicles: No such data has been published.

Indicator S28.3: Introduction of a handcuffing- by-exception policy: No handcuffing-by-exception policy has been introduced in Ireland. UNCAT (2017) made a Concluding Observation to the State on this issue: “Ensure that prisoners who are transferred between facilities are not injured during transportation and ensure that handcuffing is used only as an exceptional measure, after appropriate risk assessment.” [601] The CPT [602] recommends that the application of handcuffs should only be resorted to when the risk assessment of an individual case clearly warrants it.

Actions required:

Action 28.1: The Department of Justice and Equality should publish its Value for Money and Policy Review of Escort Services in the Criminal Justice Sector in 2018, and act on the recommendations made by UNCAT and the CPT.
Action 28.2: The Department of Justice and Equality must ensure that the timeline of the end of 2018 for the introduction of legislation to ratify OPCAT is met, and expedite the Inspection of Places of Detention Bill, to ensure inspection of all settings where people are detained, including prisoner escort services.


IPRT Irish Penal Reform Trust


Copyright 2019 Irish Penal Reform Trust. CHY number: 11091

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