Minister Flanagan Opens New Violence Reduction Unit in Midlands Prison, Portlaoise and New Extension to the Irish Prison Service Training College.
Friday 9th November 2018
The Minister for Justice and Equality, Charlie Flanagan T.D., has today (Friday, 9th November 2018) performed the official opening of the new Irish Prison Service Violence Reduction Unit and the reopening of the recently refurbished Irish Prison Service College which includes an extension to the existing facility.
Speaking at events in Portlaoise to mark the completion of these 2 landmark projects 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.
Addressing guests at the reopening of the Irish Prison Service College the Minister welcomed the completion of the €7m investment in the Irish Prison Service College including the 850 metre extension which he said had provided “world class facilities for the training of our prison staff and was an acknowledgement of the value that the Irish Prison Service places on its staff”.
The works also include the provision of a new library, 5 new meeting rooms, offices and study booths. In addition, the project included the complete renovation and modernisation of the existing building including the refurbishment of the 53 self-contained bedrooms, the staff restaurant and the provision of new locker rooms and a staff gym.
For further Information contact
Press Officer (Irish Prison Service)
T. 043 3335211
m. 087 6674284
Notes for Editors
National Violence Reduction Unit.
The National Violence Reduction Unit is based in the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise.
The Unit will house the most challenging prisoners including those with a history of extreme violence towards other prisoners and staff.
The unit will be capable of housing six violently disruptive prisoners and up to a further four prisoners who will be admitted for the purpose of intensive assessment.
This is the first co-led unit of its kind in the Irish Prison Service and represents significant culture change.
The Unit contains a number of physical innovations which will allow prison staff to interact with prisoners without the need to use a technique called “barrier handling” in which the offender is surrounded by staff in personal protective equipment and carry shields for safety.
The design has maximised the Prison Services ability to have a drug free environment. This s particularly important with this prisoner cohort, given the possibility of drug induced psychosis and resultant violent behaviour.
The Unit has multiple areas where prisoner may be out-of-cell, yet contained within distinct areas for therapeutic or educational activity, exercise or having visits (personal or legal).
Additional safety features being trialled on the Unit include the use of concealed batons as standard issue for officers working on the unit. This decision is specific to this location and purpose, and is in response to a comprehensive risk assessment conducted.
In addition, the Irish Prison Service is trialling on a pilot basis, the use of individual Body Worn Cameras on the Unit. Body Worn Cameras are a mandatory tool for NVRU officers performing duties within the Unit.
Irish Prison Service College
The Irish Prison Service College is located in Brian Stack House, Portlaoise, Co. Laois and is adjacent to the Midlands Prison.
The College is named in honour of Chief Officer Brian Stack RIP who gave his life serving the State in 1984.
The IPS also has a satellite training Centre based in West Dublin which opened earlier this year to increase the organisations capacity to training prison staff.
To support enhanced training the IPS embarked on a comprehensive project to redevelop and expand the IPS College to meet training need and support the recruitment of Prison Officers.
This project saw to complete refurbishment of Brian Stack House and the provision of a new 850 meter extension to the building.
The aim of the project was to provide world class facilities including the provision of
- new Reception and entry
- additional office space for College staff,
- hot-desks for visiting officials and those attending conferences etc.
- upgraded bedroom accommodation
- upgraded staff restaurant, Library, Gymnasium and locker rooms.
The project also included additional works including upgrading electrical, fire safety, drainage and ICT/CCTV upgrades.
The total projected cost of the projects is approximately €7 million.