17 Aug 2022

Irish Prison Service strategy plans staff structure and recruitment overhaul

Midlands Prison Portlaoise.

Prison Officers outside the Midlands Prison Portlaoise.

Supporting prison officers and other staff is one of the five key pillars of the new Irish Prison Service Strategic Plan.

The plan sets out how this aim will be achieved. Firstly, the service aims to develop 'organisational capacity'.

This will involve reviewing senior and local management structures in jails. It is also planned to strengthen “functional” management to make sure there is “clarity regarding responsibility and accountability".

The Service wants to widen and develop Human Resource (HR) teams. The development of “audit tools” is another aim. Management also wants to develop and publish a HR customer charter.

Another section deals with a safer working environment. This involves acknowledging the challenges of working in prison and providing supports to staff to deal with both critical incident stress and more routine stresses. The promotion and implementation of clear standards of behaviour and ethics is on the ards.

It is also intended to publish all HR related standard operating procedures and the governor's orders on the new communication platform.

Cultivating pride in uniform is another aim.

The service also says it wants to support people by creating a culture of inclusivity and wellbeing. It says it wants to promote a work environment that is “centred on our values.”

It wants to provide ongoing engagements between the HR Directorate and management.

Implementing the 'Well at Work/ Healthy Ireland Programme (HSE)' across the Estate is also planned.

Under the attracting and retaining the best people for the organisation, the plan says it will review the approach to recruitment and promotion competitions.

It also wants to move to an online application process for promotion competitions. Exploring the possibility of moving to regional and open recruitment is on the cards.

As to developing people, the service wants to enhance continued professional development. The current model of Recruit Prison Officer training will be reviewed.

The plan is to create a work environment in which all staff and managers have the competencies required to support objectives.

The strategy says a dedicated leadership and management section is planned. The section ends with the aim to ensure that there is accountability at all levels of our organisation through “performance agreements".

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