On Friday 9th November 2018, Charles Flanagan TD, Minister for Justice and Equality opened the Irish Prison Service Violence Reduction Unit, Midlands Prison
Speaking at the event in Portlaoise the Minister noted that the opening of the new Violence Reduction Unit was one of the most significant developments to occur within the Irish Prison Service for many years and said the “the establishment of the Unit marks a significant change in how the Irish Prison Service engages with those prisoners who represent the highest risk of violence to you our staff, to other prisoners and to our communities”.
“This new approach will be achieved by meeting each prisoner’s complex needs, through improving their psychological health, their wellbeing, and their behaviour in a centre of excellence operated by highly motivated, highly trained and highly competent staff”, he added.
While operational and security factors will always be very important in a prison environment, a key feature of the management structure of this Unit is the significantly enhanced role of the Psychology Service. As a result this new Unit will be co-lead by an Assistant Governor and a Senior Psychologist with equal importance placed on both operational and psychological factors.
The establishment of the Unit marks a significant change in how the Irish Prison Service engages with those prisoners who represent the highest risk of violence to you our staff, to other prisoners and to our communities. Its operation of the unit is grounded in best international practise and has due regard for our obligations under European Human Rights Law.
The new approach aims to meet each prisoner’s complex needs, through improving their psychological health, their wellbeing, and their behaviour in a centre of excellence operated by you our highly motivated, highly trained and highly competent staff. This is first and foremost a rehabilitative unit, where prisoners will benefit from a purposeful regime and are supported to address their challenging behaviour with a clear focus and emphasis on progression and re-integration.
All prisoners located here will be managed in accordance with an individual Case Management Plan. This plan will be continuously updated through intensive structured engagement and developed in a multi-disciplinary environment. Prisoners will be provided with the opportunity to develop non-violent coping strategies through careful selection, security, and intervention strategies. They will be provided with direction, clarity, transparency and support so that they take full responsibility for their actions.
Breaking the cycle of offending is critical to reducing crime and protecting the public I have acknowledged on many occasions the ongoing reforms introduced by the Irish Prison Service especially rehabilitative initiatives designed to protect the public and make Irish society safer. I am confident that as a national centre of excellence, with expert and highly motivated, trained staff, this new Unit will prove to be a key resource for the organisation from the outset.
I would like to wish you every success as you work on our behalf to make our society and communities safer.