Invitation to Tender: Research Projects

23 Jul

The IPRT are inviting tenders for two upcoming research projects:

1. Pre-trial detention: Monitoring Alternative and Judicial Decision-Making Process

2. Prison Litigation Network

The successful candidates will have:

  • Postgraduate degree in a relevant discipline; Knowledge of the Irish legal and criminal justice systems;
  • Experience in utilisation of a range of research methods, including survey design and distribution, interviews, hearing observations and desk-based research; experience of both qualitative and quantitative research;
  •  Experience in interpretation of EU led research protocols and adapting national research  designs as appropriate; experience in seeking and obtaining ethical approval for research purpose;
  • Liaison with key stakeholders and gatekeepers involved in Irish criminal justice; research;
  • Maintenance of detailed, accurate and fully evidenced time-keeping records;
  • Experience in producing high standard research to publication standard;
  • Exceptional attention to detail and ability to adhere to strict reporting, budgetary and time-recording requirements.

For more details on the two projects, see here.

IPRT at the UN

14 Jul

IPRT are attending at the UN Human Rights Committee today, 14 July, and have published the below press release to outline their intentions and goals in attending. Their full submission is available here, but a summary of the issues is below.


The Irish Penal Reform Trust (IPRT) will appear before the United Nations Human Rights Committee on Monday 14th July 2014 to provide expert evidence to the Committee on the State’s human rights record in respect of its treatment of prisoners and use of imprisonment. The IPRT will be urging the Committee to hold the State to account on the most pressing current human rights issues, including:

•       The on-going practice of slopping out, a practice to which more than 300 prisoners are still subjected;
•       Persistent overcrowding in our prisons, particularly within Ireland’s two female prisons;
•       Continuing high levels of inter-prisoner violence;
•       The on-going detention of children in adult prisons, including 17 year olds remaining on remand in St.Patrick’s Institution;
•       The soaring rates of committal to prison for non-payment of a court ordered fines;
•       The lack of a fully independent complaints mechanism for prisoners or Prisoner Ombudsman;
•       The failure to ratify OPCAT and establish a National Preventative Mechanism.

Speaking today, Deirdre Malone, Executive Director of the Irish Penal Reform Trust said:
“Ireland’s appearance before the UN Human Rights Committee provides a vital opportunity for an expert international monitoring body to closely examine what is really happening behind our prison walls and how Ireland measures up to international human rights standards. It is wholly unacceptable that in 2014, more than 300 prisoners continue to slop out, while in Cork prison, there are 59 cells measuring just 7.5m² currently holding two or more prisoners. In May of this year, 43 prisoners were on 23 hour lock up with another 218 prisoners subject to a restricted regime of 19 or more in-cell hours per day. While the State committed over 8,000 people to prison for non-payment of a court-ordered fine last year, many prisons frequently operated at levels well beyond the capacity designated by the Inspector of Prisons and over 600 incidences of inter-prisoner violence were recorded. Behind bars and hidden out of sight, enormous power differentials exist. The exceptional nature of the powers of the State over humans in detention makes effective external scrutiny of their use a matter of fundamental public importance. Monitoring and inspection of places of detention, along with an effective independent complaints mechanism for prisoners, are central to the protection of human rights of prisoners and form part of Ireland’s obligations under international law. The creation of a National Preventative Mechanism (NPM) and the ratification by Ireland of the OPCAT would act as a safeguard against the potential inhumane treatment of people in places of detention in Ireland. The establishment of a Prisoner Ombudsman would spur further improvements in prison conditions and would constitute a major step towards transparency and accountability”.


GRA Conference 2014

1 May

This week saw the 2014 Garda Representative Association annual conference in Killarney. The following are some of the issues raised:

  • Minister for Justice Alan Shatter was not invited to the meeting
  • Calls for the introduction of  Tasers
  • Training in firearms should be given to gardaí
  • Fears over below level recruitment and lack of resources
  • Drugs shipments were ‘slipping the net’ due to resource limitations
  • Gardaí want the powers to detain drunk persons in Garda stations until they have sobered up
  • A change of uniform
  • GRA General Secretary PJ Stone said he believed former Commissioner Martin Callinan had been sacked as a result of politics
  • Stone also called for the establishment of an independent police body with a much reduced role for the DoJ and the Minister for Justice in appointment of Commissioners and promotion of garda – thereby severing politics from policing
  • Calls for legislation to put an end to the need to write interviews down when they were being electronically recorded
  • Publication of garda assault figures annually to highlight it as a serious issue
  • GRA backed Interim Commissioner Noirin O’Sullivan for the permanent post of Commissioner

Paul Senior on Integrated Offender Management

30 Apr

The ACJRD welcomed Professor Paul Senior from Sheffield Hallam University as the guest speaker to the 2014 Martin Tansey Lecture. Prof Senior has contributed to research and policy for the past 25 years and prior to this worked in the Probation Service, he spoke about the experience of Integrated Offender Management (IOM) in England and Wales.

Background to IOM in England and Wales:

In the mid-1990s it was noticed that the drop in crime rates was not accompanied by a corresponding fall in recidivism. This led to a conversation which centred on the issue of persistent core offenders, or the idea that 10% of the offenders were committing 60% of the offences. This coincided with the entry of New Labour to government and a focus on reducing re-offending. A variety of initiatives were established to tackle the issue, including the Prolific and Priority Offender Programme, the National Offender Management Service, Drug Intervention Programmes, incorporating the concept of the 7 Pathways (which aimed to take an holistic approach to recidivism), and including the involvement of the Third Sector with their acknowledged expertise in many extra-justice areas.


Prof Senior described IOM as a way of working, rather than as a specific programme to be followed. There are up to 100 schemes currently operating in England and Wales, providing a variety of differently tailored approaches. IOM offers a continuum of services, and involves a multi-agency approach to address the spectrum of offenders’ needs to aid them in rehabilitation. While initially it was targeted at acquisitive offenders, there are now schemes offering IOM schemes to a much wider variety of persons.

Prof Senior argued that it was crucial that all key players in the criminal justice system were involved, including representatives from prison and the police, and that to this end the concept of co-location was crucial. Working together in the same space, yet with each representative still belonging to their parent organisations; it is within this clash of approaches that IOM may work best.


Regarding effectiveness, Prof Senior noted the difficulty of quantitative evaluations due to the  multiplicity of factors, the tailoring and individuality of approaches and so on, and argued that qualitative approaches were often more suited to finding out ‘why’. However, he also noted the imperative to provide assessments and the difficulty that the research cycle was considerably longer than the policy cycle. For anyone particularly interested in the element of assessment he recommended an article by Kevin Wong on the issues involved.

Furhter issues highlighted:

  • the difficulty of terminology – is ‘offender’ really the term we’re sticking with? Isn’t it rather stigmatising?
  • the concept of ‘reintegration’ is often a misnomer – it is more about first time integration and changing allegiances
  • the problem of being a gate-keeper to an IOM scheme – who is it targeted at and who can benefit?
  • IOM participation is voluntary, and not court-mandated, were there human rights issues with this? Prof Senior noted that despite being on the alert for this particular problem, he found most persons engaged with the schemes welcomed the opportunity
  • Prof Senior highlighted a few of the schemes such as that running in Bristol

Finally, Prof Senior ended on a note of optimism regarding Ireland’s potential take-up of the concept and of his enthusiasm for IOM schemes.

Liam Minihan Lecture

28 Apr

The 2014 Liam Minihan Lecture will be given by Dr Jane Carrigan and Dr Geraldine Cleere, on the topic of ‘Recent Research in Prison Education: Prisoners’ Experiences and Perspectives’. The Lecture will be chaired by Fergal Black, Director of Care and Rehabilitation at the Irish Prison Service.

The Lecture will present research conducted with prisoners in Mountjoy, Limerick and St. Patrick’s Institution who were engaging with education, as well as research on the links between education and desistance which involved interviews with men in Mountjoy, Shelton Abbey and Pathways.

The Lecture will take place on Thursday 8 May at 7pm in Wynn’s Hotel, Abbey Street, Dublin 2. Tea and coffee will be available from 6.30, see here for further information.

New: MSc/PGDip Youth Justice at Queen’s University Belfast

9 Apr

The Masters and PGDip in Youth Justice has been designed for those who want to advance their understanding of youth issues, youth offending and social and criminal justice responses to young people. It is focused on developing critical analytical skills and enhancing the ability to assess policy and practice against international standards and benchmarks.

Targeted at practitioners, policy-makers and those interested in further academic study, it provides the opportunity to apply academic knowledge and critical analytical skills to practice. It aims to enhance understanding of young people’s lives, the criminal justice system and the discourse of children’s rights.

  • The course has been designed to encourage students to consider the interface between social justice, criminal justice and children’s rights. Given increased policy attention in the area of youth justice and strategies impacting on children and young people more generally, the course reflects the concern to understand the needs and rights of children and young people, and to ground responses in evidence, best practice and international standards.

  • The course ensures students receive a grounding in the field of youth justice and are also provided with opportunities to benefit from inter-disciplinary teaching and learning. This includes undertaking core and optional modules across the disciplines of: education, sociology, social policy, criminology, health and nursing, and psychology.

  • Building capacity – The course will equip graduates with a range of knowledge and skills of direct relevance to work in areas including youth justice, youth and community work, criminal justice, public policy and research. For participants already employed in these areas, the programme will build on existing skills and knowledge and enhance the capacity to engage in comparative analysis alongside international standards. The MSc in Youth Justice includes modules on theory and research skills, and specially tailored modules focusing on research with children and young people.

Additional information about entry requirements and course content is available on the University’s Course Finder or alternatively you can contact:

Dr Siobhán McAlister
T: +44(0)28 90975918
School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work,
Queen’s University Belfast,
6 College Park, Belfast, BT7 1LP

Dr Nicola Carr
T: +44(0)28 90975965
School of Sociology, Social Policy and Social Work,
Queen’s University Belfast,
6 College Park, Belfast, BT7 1LP



DCU Inaugural Law and Government Conference

29 Mar

DCU are to host an inaugural Law and Government Conference on the theme of ‘Judges, Politics and the Irish Constitution‘. The conference will be held on 4th September 2014.

Those interested in presenting should submit an abstract within the following categories:

  •          Irish constitutional law in socio-legal perspective: law and disadvantage
  •          Irish constitutionalism in historical and comparative perspective: constitutional transitions and institutional design
  •          Socio-economic rights in Irish constitutional law: practice and reform
  •          Irish constitutional law and the impact on politics and the political process
  •          Legal theory and adjudication in Irish constitutional law

Abstracts should be submitted to no later than 19th May.

Manchester University Press will publish a journal of the best papers, which will include at least one postgraduate paper. There will also be a prize for the best postgraduate paper. Those interested in the journal or postgraduates interested in the prize are asked to send their papers no later than 22nd August.


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