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05/08/2021

Complaints of serious ill-treatment made by prisoners in Irish prison went missing

Portlaoise Prison

Portlaoise prison

A dozen serious complaints by Portlaoise Prison inmates against staff that alleged serious ill-treatment went missing in 2018 a new report reveals.

This finding is contained in the Report of the Office of the Inspector of Prisons for 2020. Signed off by Patricia Gilheaney, Inspector of Prisons, in March 2021, it outlined what was found in the section on the handling of complaints by the Irish Prison Service (IPS).

"In July 2020, the Inspectorate received notification from IPS Headquarters that investigators had been appointed to investigate 12 Category A complaints made in Portlaoise Prison, dating back to 2018," it said.

Category A complaints involve allegations made by a prisoner alleging serious ill-treatment, use of excessive force, serious intimidation/discrimination or threats by a member of staff.

The report said a review was initiated in Portlaoise which houses gangland inmates and paramilitaries. 

"The Inspectorate was informed that a review of local procedures in Portlaoise Prison was underway to ensure a similar situation would not occur in the future. The total number of Category A complaints reported by the Inspectorate in our 2018 Annual Report was 79 and should, having regard to the notifications received in 2020, have been 91," said the report.

The 2020 report found that there were 933 complaints in that year. More than half of these were Category C service complaints. There were 67 Category A reports.

Portlaoise Prison accounted for 24 complaints while the neighbouring Midlands Prison had 194 complaints, the highest number in the country.

Ms Gilheaney's report found that the prison complaints system is not fit for purposes.

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