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Home > Office of the Inspector of Prisons annual report 2018.

Ireland. Office of the Inspector of Prisons. (2019) Office of the Inspector of Prisons annual report 2018. Dublin: Office of the Inspector of Prisons.

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The Office of Inspector of Prisons was established on a statutory basis, pursuant to Section 30 of the Prisons Act, 2007 (“the Act”) in January 2007. The Inspector of Prisons is appointed by the Minister for Justice and Equality to perform the functions conferred on him/her by Part 5 of the Act. Patricia Gilheaney the current Inspector was appointed on 7 May 2018 for a five year term in office subject to the provisions of Section 30 of the Act. The Inspector of Prisons is independent in the performance of her functions.



The ready availability of contraband in prisons is a serious concern. Similar to prisons in England, Scotland and Wales, illicit drug use within prisons in Ireland continues. During one prison visit staff showed the Inspector illicit substances that were retrieved within the prison grounds on that day. The ‘drugs trade’ within prison reflects the ‘drugs trade’ outside of prison with some key differences, namely, the costs of drugs in prison is higher than in the general community, due to the factors of supply and demand. The buying and selling of illicit drugs and mobile phones in prisons can lead to bullying and intimidation of not only the prisoners concerned, but also their families and friends. Prisoners selling illicit drugs and mobile phones can amass significant wealth whilst in prison and conversely place the prisoner who is buying the contraband in significant debt. Whilst acknowledging this issue exists and the inherent challenges it presents, it is important that the Irish Prison Service does not accept it ‘as the norm’ and continues to strive and increase its efforts to improve security at points of entry to prisons and also avail of technology to prevent mobile phone use within prisons. The advent of the use of drones compounds the contraband problem and challenges the Irish Prison Service to keep abreast of technological advances. During the year, the Inspector met with a number of families of prisoners who died in custody or while on temporary release in 2017 and 2018. They expressed concern that illicit drug use may have been a factor in their loved ones death.


Prisoner Health and the provision of appropriate services

The right to health is fundamental to the attainment of other human rights and is enshrined in a number of international covenants and instruments4. In 2016 the Inspector of Prisons recommended that a comprehensive assessment of the health needs of prisoners in all 13 prisons must be undertaken followed by a staffing needs analysis of healthcare personnel in each prison5. To date, there is no such report available. The Prison Rules 2007-2017 provide the legislative underpinning for the provision of healthcare services (Part 10, rules 99 to 104 inclusive); and psychology services (Part 14, rules 112-113 inclusive) in prisons. Prisoners are entitled to receive primary healthcare services. A General Practitioner service is available in all prisons from either directly employed registered medical practitioners or by the use of locums sourced from a recruitment agency.

Item Type
Publication Type
Drug Type
Substances (not alcohol/tobacco)
December 2019
28 p.
Office of the Inspector of Prisons
Corporate Creators
Ireland. Office of the Inspector of Prisons
Place of Publication

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