Progress in the
Penal System (PIPS)

30: Professional relationships (2019)

Standard 30

Good relationships between management, staff and prisoners are facilitated and encouraged. Management ensures that a positive working culture is created in the prison.


Creating good working relationships helps ensure a positive prison environment. Prisons are institutions where the most important aspect is relationships between people:

Real change in any prison system cannot take place without the involvement of both staff and prisoners [...] The key feature for the success or failure of any prison system that is to be run in a decent and humane manner is the relationship between prisoners and the prison staff with whom they come into contact on a daily basis.[517]

Current context:

In 2019, the Minister for Justice and Equality announced new prison governance structures including a culture committee.[518] This committee may play a role in identifying, supporting and enhancing relationships between prisoners, staff and management.

Indicators for Standard:

Indicator for Standard 30

Indicator 30.1: Measuring the quality of prison life (MQPL) survey or equivalent is conducted on an annual basis, with per-prison results published.

While the IPS has previously conducted MQPL surveys internally, these survey findings have not been published.


Currently, it is hard to gauge the quality of relationships between prisoners, staff and management, particularly in the absence of published inspection and monitoring reports. Conducting and publishing MPQL surveys would be one way to gauge such relationships and to work towards creating healthier prison environments.

For example, research carried out in England and Wales that analysed the relationship between prison social climate and re-offending showed that a higher moral quality of life supports better outcomes for prisoners on release.[519]

When established, the culture committee set up as part of a range of measures to strengthen governance of the IPS could consider the use of MQPL surveys.[520]

Status of Standard 30: Insufficient Data

Actions required:

Action 30.1: Independent MQPL surveys across the prison estate should be published every four years in order to assess relationships between prisoners, staff and management.


Irish Penal Reform Trust


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