Psychology Service

The Psychology Service forms part of the Care & Rehabilitation Directorate of the Irish Prison Service. It provides mental health services to prisoners (coping with imprisonment, depression, anxiety etc.) and helps offenders address factors that put them at risk of re-offending (anger, substance abuse, sexual and violent offending etc).

The Service is heavily involved in the delivery of the Building Better Lives programme for sex offenders in Arbour Hill and a similar programme for violent offenders in Wheatfield Prison. 

Review of Psychology Service 2015

The IPS commissioned Dr Frank Porporino to undertake a review of the psychology service in the IPS.

To read the Report click here

The report offers a basis for the future development of the psychology service in the IPS. The author has formed a view that currently psychology operates in a vacuum and is not "organisationally embedded nor supported as it could be". There is a clear view that psychology can assume a role as a key partner in driving change.

Dr. Porporino identifies a more integrated role for psychology and places a particular emphasis on the role of psychology in managing longer term offenders (circa 1,000 committals per year serving greater that 2 years) "who should be the focus of some much more deliberate and comprehensive sentence planning and vigilant case management". His "conclusion is that this is a responsibility that, at least at this point in time should be assumed by the psychology service in the IPS".

The report also makes recommendations around offenders with adjustment issues, substance misuse issues, mental health issues, lifers etc and Dr. Porporino recommends that "offenders should have more access to service delivery pathways and not just one or two modes of service delivery (i.e. intensive one-to-one or lengthy group based interventions". Essentially the report identifies an "opportunity for the psychology service in the IPS to provide a greater breadth of service (to more offenders) without sacrificing depth of the service".

The report has recommended the recruitment of 10 additional "working level psychologists". In addition, in the context of circa 1,000 admissions annually of longer term offenders, the report recommends an additional 5 psychology assistants should be deployed across the estate. Finally, in the context of mentally unwell prisoners Dr. Porporino has recommended the recruitment of at least 6 graduate mental health workers "to deal with this quite overwhelming problem".

The recommendations contained in this report will require careful consideration and have considerable resource implications. The IPS are drafting an Implementation Plan to bring forward some of the recommendations as resources permit.