In March 2021, the Office of the Inspector of Prisons embarked on a robust programme of COVID-19 Thematic Inspections designed to assess the impact of COVID-19 on all Irish prisons.
The inspection process is as follows:
Below are materials developed as part of these inspections:
(1) Call Template: The inspection visit to the prison is complemented by ongoing telephone communications with the prison. These calls are designed to: (i) identify COVID-19 related practices in the prison across the Inspection Framework Focus Areas; (ii) highlight areas of concern that may require further attention as part of an inspection visit; (iii) monitor implementation status of Irish Prison Service Action Plans developed to respond to Inspectorate Recommendations; and (iv) provide prison management with an opportunity to indicate positive advancements and challenges related to COVID-19 related restrictions in the prison.
(2) Infection Control Protocol: The Office of the Inspector of Prisons’ infection control protocol outlines a plan to complete COVID-19 inspections to a process which is in line with Public Health advice, and aims to protect the safety of people in prison and staff working in prisons by limiting the risk of COVID-19 disease transmission.
(3) OIP COVID-19 IPS Staff Survey: As a complement to the OIP COVID-19 Thematic Inspections carried out in 2021, the OIP has developed a COVID-19 Staff Survey. The objective of the survey is to capture prison staff experiences of working during the pandemic. The survey was live and open for completion from 30 April to 16 May 2021. The Irish Prison Service provided all IPS staff working in IPS facilities with the survey access code, and the survey was hosted on the OIP website. All recorded responses are anonymous and only aggregate responses will be reported. The OIP received over 500 responses to the COVID-19 Staff Survey, and would like to thank Irish Prison Service Staff for taking the time to share their experiences.