Progress in the
Penal System (PIPS)

29: Staff training (2019)

Standard 29:

All staff receive relevant ongoing training and supports in order to effectively carry out their duties to a high standard.


The importance of careful selection and recruitment of prison staff cannot be overstated.[502] The CoE Code of Ethics for Prison Staff identifies the importance of values for prison staff that place emphasis on: accountability, integrity, respect for protection of human rights, care, fairness, impartiality and non-discrimination.[503] Staff training in which such ethics are embedded helps contribute to a safer and healthier prison environment where good relationships are fundamental. Staff should also feel supported by management in fulfilling their duties.

Current context:

At the end of 2018, there were 3,270.15 whole-time equivalent staff in the IPS.[504] A total of 181 new recruit prison officers entered the IPS in 2018.[505] As part of the new recruit prison officer training, IPRT made presentations on its work throughout 2018 and 2019. Other community-based organisations, such as the Travellers in Prison Initiative (TPI), have also provided awareness-raising training to new recruit prison officers. A further 1,391 staff received training as part of continuous professional development (CPD) in 2018.[506]

New developments for staff include: development of a draft staff recognition scheme,[507] and a code of ethical behaviour that is due to be introduced in 2019.[508]

The CoE (2019) has recently issued guidelines regarding recruitment, selection, education, training and professional development of prison and probation staff.[509] A number of key principles are outlined in this document, including the importance of having sufficient staffing levels. The document provides best practice guidelines on recruitment processes for prison officers and probation staff, as well as professional development and ethics. It outlines that all states should have an ethical code for their staff. This should form an integral part of staff induction and in-service training, and adherence to the code should be part of the appraisal procedures.

Indicators for Standard:

Indicators for Standard 29

Indicator S29.1: Training in human rights and equality including on the United Nations Convention against Torture (UNCAT) for existing and new staff.

The syllabus of prison officer CPD training rotates over a three-year cycle. A module included on the 2019 syllabus entitled ‘Human Rights in the Custodial Environment’ was designed and developed by the IPS Training College in conjunction with the IHREC. The training covers the UN Treaty Framework, the ECHR and the impact of rights on a custodial environment. In 2019, 355 prison officers have received this training, with an estimated 200+ officers to receive the training by Quarter 4 of 2019.[510]

Recruit prison officers also undertake an ‘oversight in prisons project’, which examines the role of inspections and how the body has impacted on the role of recruit prison officers.[511]

Indicator S29.2: Adoption of CoE code of ethics for prison staff, with annual assessments.

The IPS will introduce a code of ethical behaviour for prison staff in 2019.[513]


Some positive initiatives have been introduced for staff over the last year, including a central focus on human rights as part of recruit prison officer training.

Status of Standard 29: Progress

Actions required:

Action 29.1: The IPS should introduce a code of ethical behaviour, which should form part of staff induction, training and appraisal procedures.
Action 29.2: The IPS should introduce training on gender-based violence for all prison staff.


Irish Penal Reform Trust


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