PRILA team presents at the launch of the Office of the Inspector of Prisons’ Inspection Framework for Prisons in Ireland
On 15th September 2020, the Office of the Inspector of Prisons in Ireland launched its new Inspection Framework.
On 15th September 2020, the Office of the Inspector of Prisons in Ireland launched its new Inspection Framework. The Framework sets out how the Office of the Inspector of Prisons will conduct inspections in Irish prisons and marks an important move towards greater transparency in the work of the office. The event, which was held online, was attended by members of the Office of the Inspector of Prisons, the Irish Prison Service and the Department of Justice.
The Framework was officially launched by Minister for Justice and Equality, Helen McEntee. Following this, Professor Shane Kilcommins, from the University Limerick School of Law, provided an overview on the role of decision making and the rule of law as it underpins the importance of the Framework. The Inspection Framework for Prisons in Ireland was then introduced in more depth by Chief Inspector of Prisons, Patricia Gilheaney. A response to the new Inspection Framework was provided by Caron McCaffrey, Director General of the Irish Prison Service.
From the PRILA team, Sophie van der Valk, Sarah Curristan, and Dr. Ciara O'Connell presented research findings focused on accountability and oversight in the context of Irish prisons. Sophie provided an account of prisoner ‘Familiarity with Prison Oversight Bodies,’ which highlighted current low levels of awareness and limited engagement with the Inspector of Prisons. This presentation noted the importance of increasing visibility of the Office of the Inspector of Prisons within the prison to encourage more understanding amongst prisoners about its role. Sarah’s presentation, entitled, ‘Perceptions of Oversight Through Inspection Among Senior Prison Staff’, described current attitudes of senior staff towards inspection, which resonated with the inclusion of greater staff engagement within the Inspection Framework. Finally, Ciara presented PRILA research on ‘International Oversight: Lessons from a CPT Visit to an Irish Prison.’ This presentation introduced staff and prisoner perceptions of a recent visit from the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture (CPT), and identified challenges associated with awareness levels, the oversight engagement process and scepticism around the impact of oversight. Ciara drew from this research to offer strategies for improving inspection carried out by national inspection bodies, such as the Office of the Inspector of Prisons.
The PRILA project, which is led by Professor Mary Rogan, recognises the importance of strong, effective and transparent oversight structures and procedures in the context of prisons. The PRILA team is appreciative of the opportunity to participate in the launch of the Framework, and welcomes the introduction and adoption of the Inspection Framework for Prisons in Ireland by the Office of the Inspector of Prisons.
PRILA presentation materials can be downloaded here:
- Familiarity with Prison Oversight Bodies. (Sophie van der Valk, Eva Aizpurua and Mary Rogan)
- Perceptions of Oversight Through Inspection Among Senior Prison Staff. (Sarah Curristan, Eva Aizpurua and Mary Rogan)
- International Oversight: Lessons from a CPT Visit to an Irish Prison. (Ciara O’Connell, Mary Rogan, Sarah Curristan and Sophie van der Valk)
The Inspection Framework for Prisons in Ireland can be downloaded HERE.