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McGuire, Vivion (2008) Irish Prison Service annual report 2006. Drugnet Ireland , Issue 26, Summer 2008 , pp. 21-22.

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The Irish Prison Service (IPS) annual report for 2006 was published in December 2007.1 In 2006 there were 12,157 committals to prison: 5,642 under sentence; 5,311 on remand; 1,196  under immigration law; and eight for contempt of court. These committals related to 9,700 individuals. Of the 5,642 sentenced committals, 113 were for intoxication (by alcohol) in a public place and 395 for drug offences (up 29% on the 2005 figure).

 The IPS aims ‘to provide a range of care services to prisoners to a standard commensurate with that obtaining in the wider community’. Included are medical, dental, psychiatric, psychological, education, vocational training, work, welfare, spiritual, counselling and recreational services. Healthcare is provided to prisoners by psychiatrists, general practitioners, nurses, counsellors and medical orderlies.
 
Drugs and prison
In May 2006 the Minister for Justice launched the IPS drugs policy and strategy document, Keeping drugs out of prisons. This sets out the steps required to tackle the supply of drugs into prisons, to provide adequate treatment services to those who are addicted to drugs, and to ensure that developments in the prisons are linked to those in the community. The IPS has reported significant progress in implementing this strategy.
 
Treatment and rehabilitation services
New services and programmes for addicted prisoners were developed in 2006. These were delivered by the IPS in partnership with the Health Service Executive (HSE) and contracted private services.
 
  • Seven nurse officers and five prison officers were allocated to dedicated drug treatment teams in Cloverhill and Wheatfield prisons.
  • An additional consultant in addiction was provided to improve the quality and co-ordination of drug treatment in prisons.
  • A contract was awarded to Merchants Quay Ireland to provide access for prisoners to addiction counselling (1,000 hours per week).
  • The Dormant Accounts Fund financed four community groups to provide addiction counselling and other supports to prisoners while in prison and on release in the community.
  • A consultant-led infectious diseases service was contracted from St James’s Hospital to provide treatment to prisoners who suffer from infectious diseases. It is hoped to expand this service to other sites.
  • A HSE consultant in forensic psychiatry in the Western Region was contracted to provide dedicated sessions to Limerick Prison.
  • The second contracted pharmacy service was introduced to Loughran House (an open prison) in April 2006.
  • A tender for dedicated pharmacy services to provide drug treatment was developed and awarded. This will provide pharmacy services in a number of closed prisons.
  • The psychology service in Irish prisons increased its team to seven clinical psychologists, eight counselling psychologists and one forensic psychologist.
  • Further work was undertaken to promote and facilitate the use of the prison medical record system through training and support, and the development of changes based on user feedback.
 
Nine prisons provided methadone treatment to 1,579 prisoners in 2006, of whom 162 were receiving methadone for the first time (Table 1). It is noteworthy that methadone treatment was not provided in two large prisons, Cork and Castlerea.
 
 
 
 
Eliminating the supply of drugs
During 2006 the IPS intensified its focus on preventing illicit drugs being brought into prisons. The traditional means of effecting supply reduction – staff vigilance, physical searches and supervision of people entering prisons – continue to be reinforced by means of improved facilities and procedures. Specific measures put in place in 2006 include:
 
  • More secure prisoner visiting arrangements, which involve greater control over the number and identity of visitors, and enhanced supervision of such visits
  • Enhanced perimeter security through improved netting and closer co-operation with the Garda Síochána
  • Enhanced technology for searching of cells and prison property, resulting in improved detection and seizure of contraband
  • The introduction of dogs to detect drugs on people entering prisons and to aid searches within prisons.
 
 
1. Irish Prison Service (2008) Annual report 2006. Dublin: Irish Prison Service.

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