Changes have been announced to the Prison Rules, which took effect from 14 January, which are intended to improve the prisoner complaints mechanism. Following on from recommendations provided by the Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly, steps have been taken to address the most urgent issues presented in the report, those category A complaints dealing with physical violence, racial discrimination and threatening behaviour towards prisoners.
Twenty-two external investigators have been recruited by the Prison Service, to facilitate the investigation of these most serious complaints and the Department of Justice are considering implementing further changes to the Prison Rules to allow the Inspector of Prisons access to the appeals process, non-prison personnel and the medical records of prisoners.
The Minister for Justice also announced the publication of the report by the Visiting Committee on St. Patrick’s for the year 2011; the report had neglected to expose many key issues which were included in the Inspector of Prisons report on the institution, released in 2012. On foot of this report, Minister Shatter originally refused to public the Visiting Committee report, which he admitted had significant oversights, and ordered a review.