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Written Answers - Prisoner Complaints Procedures

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 754 No. 3

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 101.  Deputy Brian Stanley Information on Brian Stanley Zoom on Brian Stanley  asked the Minister for Justice and Equality Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter  if he will introduce an independent complaints mechanism for prisoners here. [6528/12]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter Zoom on Alan Shatter The Prisons (Visiting Committees) Act 1925 provides for a Visiting Committee to be constituted for every prison in the State and one of the statutory duties of such committees is to hear any complaints which may be made to them by a prisoner. Under new legislation to be prepared, I intend to make Visiting Committees more effective while they continue their role. The arrangements for membership of the Committees will be changed and a link will be established between the Visiting Committees and the Inspector of Prisons.

There are also procedures within the Irish Prison Service for the investigation of complaints by prisoners. I am not satisfied that the existing IPS procedures are sufficiently robust and independent of the local staff to meet best practice for the investigation of serious complaints. It is my intention to bring forward amendments to the Prison Rules 2007 which will introduce an independent element to the investigation. I have asked the Inspector of Prisons to give consideration to this matter and to advise me as to the most appropriate approach to be taken in an Irish context so as to ensure compliance with best international practice. The Inspector’s views will then be taken into account in relation to the framing of the amended Rules in this regard.

The Deputy can be assured that every effort will be made to finalise this work as soon as possible.

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