The Protected Disclosures Act came into effect on 15th July 2014. The purpose of the Act is to provide a framework within which workers can raise concerns regarding potential wrongdoing that has come to their attention in the work place in the knowledge that protections are available to them from any form of penalisation from doing so.
The Irish Prison Service has updated the Irish Prison Service Policy and Procedures in July 2018. This was done to foster a culture and work environment within which workers are encouraged and supported in making reports in the knowledge that their concerns will be taken seriously, will be investigated, where appropriate, and that their confidentiality will be respected.
This policy applies to all Irish Prison Service workers including staff, contractors, consultants, agency staff, former employees.
What is the purpose of the Protected Disclosure Policy?
The Protected Disclosures Policy is designed to ensure workers can raise concerns about relevant wrongdoings which come to their attention in connection with their employment without fear of penalisation. It is also designed to provide a transparent and confidential process for dealing with the concerns raised. The policy highlights that it is always appropriate to raise concerns when they are based on a reasonable belief irrespective of whether any wrongdoing is in fact subsequently identified and provides workers with guidance on how to raise concerns.
What is the Integrity at Work Pledge?
The Irish Prison Service recognises the importance of developing an ethical workplace and the valuable contribution of those who raise concerns about wrongdoing. We commit to not penalising or permitting penalisation of a worker who make protected disclosures and to responding to and acting upon such reported protected disclosures, as appropriate. The Irish Prison Service is a member of the Integrity at Work Programme (“IAW”), an initiative of Transparency International Ireland. The IAW is aimed at promoting a safer working environment for people who speak up about wrongdoing. The IAW pledge is co-signed by the Director General and the Governor/Director for all areas of the Prison Estate to include each Prison, Support Unit and Directorate.
Where can I get independent advice if I see wrongdoing?
Transparency International Ireland (TII) operates an independent confidential free phone service for anyone considering reporting a concern or making a protected disclosure. The Speak Up helpline operates from Monday to Friday 10 am to 6 pm for free confidential and expert advice at 1800 844 866 or download TII free guide Speak Up Safely at www.speakup.ie The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org. Transparency International Ireland (TII) provides free and confidential information to workers both prior to and after making a report. A guide to making a Protected Disclosure is also available at https://transparency.ie/sites/default/files/14.12.02_speak_up_safely_final.pdf
Transparency International Ireland (TII) Legal Advice Centre is Ireland’s only independent law centre specialising in providing free legal advice to anyone who wishes to disclose a wrongdoing, particularly under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014. Callers to the Speak Up helpline who are assessed to fall under TLAC’s practice area will be referred to TLAC where appropriate and may be offered an appointment with a solicitor.
Who do I report wrongdoing to in the Irish Prison Service?
You can report wrongdoing to the Protected Disclosure Manager.
The Irish Prison Service encourages all workers to make disclosures internally to the Protected Disclosures Manager. The Irish Prison Service has appointed Patricia McArdle, Protected Disclosures Manager, to receive protected disclosures. The Protected Disclosure Manager can be contacted as follows:
(i) by email to email@example.com
(ii) in person by appointment with the Protected Disclosures Manager arranged by email to firstname.lastname@example.org
(iii) in writing in a sealed envelope marked “Confidential: For the Protected Disclosures Manager”, PO Box 45, An Post, Main Street Longford Co. Longford.
Any disclosures being made to the Protected Disclosures Manager should, where possible, be made on the Protected Disclosures Reporting Form (see Appendix 5 of the Policy) and should provide as much information as possible in relation to the alleged relevant wrongdoing. It is recognised that on occasion it may be necessary for a protected disclosure to be made otherwise than via the form i.e. verbally. Workers who make a disclosure otherwise than by using the form are encouraged to indicate that the disclosure is being made as a protected disclosure under the Act in order to ensure the efficient assessment and/or investigation of the disclosure under the Procedures.
What protections do I have?
All reasonable steps will be taken to protect workers from penalisation. Workers who consider that they have experienced any act of penalisation should notify the Protected Disclosures Manager as soon as possible. The Protected Disclosures Manager will acknowledge receipt of the complaint within five working days, or where this is not reasonably practical, as soon as possible. The Protected Disclosures Manager will arrange for an independent investigation of the complaint of penalisation.
I am worried people will talk about me for making a Protected Disclosure?
The Act provides that a disclosure recipient (which includes any person to whom a disclosure is referred in the performance of his/her duties) must not disclose to another person any information that might identify the discloser, save a provided for in paragraph 10.1 of the Policy.
Workers are prohibited from attempting to determine the identity of a disclosure and from speculating as to any such discloser’s identity. Where the Irish Prison Service has reasonable cause to consider that an employee has attempted to determine the identity of a disclosure or speculated as to any such individual’s identity, such employee may be subject to disciplinary action, up to and including dismissal.
Will the Irish Prison Service publically report on Protected Disclosures?
The Irish Prison Service is required to publish an annual report setting out the number of protected disclosures received in the preceding year and the action taken (if any). This report must not result in persons making disclosures being identified. The Protected Disclosures Manager will be required to submit his/her standalone Annual Report on Protected Disclosures each year and publish it on the Irish Prison Service the website www.irishprisons.ie to include:
- The number of reports made to the Irish Prison Service under the Protected Disclosures Act 2014; and
- Any action taken in response to such protected disclosures.
For further information: