07 Jul 2022

Irish Prison service is recruiting for new prison officers

Portlaoise Prison

Portlaoise Prison

The Irish prison service is recruiting for new prison officers.

The service has advertised online as follows.

"Applications are invited from suitably qualified persons who wish to be considered for inclusion on a panel from which vacancies for Recruit Prison Officer.

"The Recruit Prison Officer (RPO) is the entry level to the Service and it is proposed to set up a panel from which vacancies arising in the Irish Prison Service may be filled.

"Vacancies will be filled at Recruit Prison Officer level initially. Following the successful completion of 3 years’ service including probation and a Higher Certificate in Custodial Care, the Recruit Prison Officer will be appointed as an established Prison Officer.
Prisons operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week. As a result, Recruit Prison Officers will be required to work a basic 2,035 hours per year based on an average roster of 39 hours a week, and will be required to work shifts including night duties, every second weekend, some public holidays and over festive seasons. Recruit Prison Officers will also be required to work Additional Hours (AH) over and above basic rostered hours up to 360 hours per annum.
Working as a Recruit Prison Officer can be complex and difficult, but it can be varied, challenging and highly rewarding. We are looking for individuals who have the capacity to relate to and engage with prisoners, act with professionalism, tolerance and humanity and the ability to role model positive social behaviour. They must also have the ability to think on their feet in dealing with situations which require security and control.

They list the salary.

"As of 1 January 2020 the following salary scale applies to Recruit Prison Officers:
PPC €29,928.00 €31,101.00 €33,852.00 NORMAL MAX.

"A different pay scale may apply if the individual has previously worked in the Public Service. Entry will be at the minimum point of the scale. Work on Saturday, Sunday, public holidays and nights attract premium payments. Recruit Prison Officers will also receive other allowances e.g. Operational Allowance (8% of annual salary). The allocation of up to 360 additional hours will attract further premium payments. The Additional Hours System provides for extra attendance by staff. It involves the allocation of up to 360 hours maximum per person per annum. (Under this system a lower number of hours may be allocated, i.e. 240 hours, 112 hours, or nil hours.)
The rate of remuneration may be adjusted from time to time in line with Government policy." the service said.

"The Irish Prison Service is responsible for the provision of safe, secure and humane custody for those people committed to prison by the Courts. Political responsibility for the Prison System in Ireland is vested in the Minister for Justice and Equality. The Irish Prison Service operates as an executive agency within the Department of Justice and Equality. It is headed by a Director General supported by a number of Directors. The Service is a key component in our country's criminal justice system ensuring safer community life and employs approximately 3,200 personnel."

They describe their mission as providing safe and secure custody, dignity of care and rehabilitation to prisoners for safer communities. Their vision is "a safer community through excellence in a prison service built on respect for human dignity".

"A prison is not a usual environment for any human being. It is a complex and dynamic environment which has the potential to be stressful for both prisoners and for staff. The normalisation of the prison environment is largely dependent on effective management and on the development of appropriate relationships by our prison staff with our prisoners. Prisons operate 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days a year.

"Prison Officers conduct the majority of the face to face interactions with people committed to prison throughout their sentence including transportation from court; committal; safety; security; accommodation; supporting access to healthcare, psychology, in reach services, work training, education and visits by family friends and legal representatives; maintaining good order and discipline; and supporting their care, progression, desistence and rehabilitation in order that they can safely reintegrate back into their communities on completion of their sentence.

"Given that prisoners spend the majority of their sentence in the presence of Prison Officers, building appropriate relationships with prisoners and actively role modelling positive behaviours in general appearance, demeanour and in daily interactions with colleagues and prisoners are fundamental aspect of role. Prison Officers must secure and account for every prisoner in their care at all times, whether inside the prison or when on prisoner escorts.

The role is described as follows.

a) Ensure the safe and secure custody of prisoners by
 Accounting for and securing all prisoners, prisoner information, keys and radios in your custody at all times.
 Setting clear expectations of behaviour for prisoners, utilising the Incentivised Regime Scheme to reflect the consequences of their behaviour and initiating disciplinary proceedings when the Prison Rules are breached by prisoners.
 Vigilantly monitoring prison cells and infrastructure for damage, tampering, breakage, or for potential risk of injury on a daily basis and report any potential threats to security or safety to the ACO and Trades Officer immediately.
 Monitoring yards, visits, gates, nets, external perimeters and overhead airspace utilising CCTV and other measures and reporting any suspect activity to the Assistant Chief Officer
 Quickly identifying and interpreting warning signs, indicators, changes in prisoner behaviour, routines and habits, regarding potential threats to the good order and safe and secure custody of prisoners and promptly acting to resolve or prevent incidents and communicating to other staff if there are any unresolved issues.
 Identifying and reporting evidence of possession or use of prohibited articles, drugs or substances within the prison.
 Preventing non-compliant and violent conduct and the unlawful escape of prisoners in a manner consistent with the Prison Rules.
 Maintaining familiarity with and rehearsing or implementing contingency plans in order to effectively respond to a prison emergency or critical incident.

b) Contribute to the care, progression, desistence and rehabilitation of prisoners by
 Actively role modelling positive behaviours in your general appearance, demeanour, in your daily interactions with colleagues and prisoners and by ensuring that decisions relating to prisoner requests are responded to quickly and the prisoner understands the justification for the decision
 Monitoring and recording indicators regarding the physical and mental health of prisoners in accordance with policies and SOPs and when concerns are identified alert the appropriate healthcare staff
 Engaging and communicating effectively with line managers, Integrated Sentence Managers (ISMs), healthcare staff, psychologists, Work Training staff, teachers, in reach services, etc., regarding prisoners in your care
 Supporting and promoting, in-reach prison community initiatives such as the Red Cross, Samaritans Listener programme, Mens’ Shed, Gaisce, Toastmasters, Park run, etc.
 Cultivating appropriate relationships (right relationships rather than good relationships) with prisoners by setting out and maintaining clear security and personal boundaries and managing tensions between security, care and rehabilitative objectives.

 Providing evidence to investigation teams, inspection and monitoring bodies, courts, etc when requested.
 Respecting, protecting and explaining to prisoners their statutory entitlements and human rights.
 Implementing safe work practices in accordance with the safety statement, ensuring that the standard of cleanliness and hygiene control in your work area is maintained at a high level in accordance with IPS policy and identifying, reporting and recording health and safety hazards and work related injuries and take any necessary action to eliminate, isolate or minimise hazards
 Maintaining familiarity and complying with relevant legislation, policies, SOPs and orders
 Monitoring your own mental health and the mental health of your colleagues, particularly in times of stress and following involvement in or observation of critical incidents and recognising when support is required.

c) Be prepared to conduct a broad range of additional tasks including:
 Operating IPS vehicles
 Escorting prisoners to courts, hospitals, funerals, etc,
 Screening and searching prisoners, their property, visitors into prison, cells, vehicles, visiting areas and other locations
 Supervising visits to prisoners by families, friends and legal representatives
 Safely escorting psychologists, maintenance teams, probations service staff, in-reach service staff in the performance of their roles
 Monitoring prisoner written correspondence
 Assisting in the committal of prisoners and the management of prisoner property
 Verifying the identity and confirming the authorisation of prisoners and visitors to enter and exit the prison and recording these movements
 Supporting education and work training activities
 Implementing IPS drug testing procedures
 Night duty
 Operating the prison control room
 Any other tasks as directed by the Prison Governor or a line manager.

Applicants must be at least 18 years of age on or before January 9 2020.

They must have achieved:

(i) in the Established Leaving Certificate a minimum of grade D3 (O6 from 2017 onwards) at Ordinary level, or C3 (F5 from 2017) at Foundation Level, in at least 5 subjects*; or

(ii) a Merit in the Leaving Certificate Applied programme; or a minimum of a Level 5 Major award (120 credits) on the National Framework of Qualifications (NFQ); or

(iii) a recognised relevant qualification (minimum Level 5 on the NFQ), which in the opinion of the Public Appointments Service is acceptable in terms of standard, level and volume of learning.

*A Pass or above in the Links Modules subject may be counted as one subject
** A Fetac Level 5 or 6 major award will have 120 Credits (Please note any certificate which has a lower number is only a Minor Award and is not sufficient to determine eligibility) Note: A combination of two or more exam sittings may be permitted in determining eligibility.

"The Public Appointments Service/Irish Prison Service may verify the validity of qualifications with Quality and Qualifications Ireland (QQI). Applicants should not contact QQI directly. Candidates may however refer to which offers advice on the academic recognition of foreign qualifications in Ireland."

Applicants must be a national of a European Union Member State or of a European Economic Area State or the Swiss Confederation or be entitled under section 3, 18 or 24 of the Refugee Act, 1996; to the rights and privileges specified in section 3 of that Act, or have had a period of one year’s continuous residence in the State immediately before the 21 st March 2019 and, during the eight years immediately preceding that period, have had a total residence in the State amounting to four years. Periods of illegal residence or residence as an asylum seeker in the State do not count for this qualifying five year period.


The officer will be required to perform any duties appropriate to the position which may be assigned from time to time.

Hours of Attendance
Hours of attendance will be as fixed from time to time but basic attendance will be 2,035 hours per year on an average 39 hour week (on a 12 hour shift pattern).
A Recruit Prison Officer will have a 7 day week liability including night duties, every second weekend and some public holidays and over festive seasons. Recruit Prison Officers will also be required to work Additional Hours (to a maximum of 360 per annum) which will attract additional payment.


Following Phase 1 of Training, Recruit Prison Officers will be assigned to vacancies in the major prisons. Recruit Prison Officers will be liable to be assigned to other areas of the Irish Prison Service from time to time according to the exigencies of the Service.

Recruit Prison Officers may seek to transfer to other locations in the service. Transfer list priority is based on seniority. Based on existing transfer waiting lists, Prison Officers may expect to wait a minimum of 5 years before progressing to the top of a transfer list for particular prisons and in some cases more than 10 years. The length of time is dependent on the number of staff seeking a transfer and the number of retirees in a particular location. The Irish Prison Service cannot predict the duration of the wait for any location, given the factors involved.

Appointment as a Recruit Prison Officer is to an established position on a probationary contract in the Irish Prison Service. The purpose of the probationary period is to determine whether you are suitable to operate competently in the challenging environment of the Irish Prison Service. Prior to completion of the probationary contract a decision will be made as to whether or not you will be retained pursuant to Section 5A(2) Civil Service Regulation Acts 1956-2005.

Annual Leave
The annual leave allowance is 160 hours (20 days) per year. The arrangements which currently apply in the Service in respect of “unearned rest days” and “free days” in lieu of public holidays will also apply. To ensure that sufficient staffing is available annual leave is granted in a structured and planned manner.

Sick leave
Pay during properly certified sick absence, provided there is no evidence of permanent disability for service, will apply on a pro-rata basis, in accordance with the provisions of the sick leave circulars.

The Irish Prison Service is a uniformed organisation. Staff are obliged to comply with standards relating to dress, appearance and deportment, which are a critical element of pro-social modelling.

Social Media and Mobile Phones
Prisons are secure environments and as such Prison Officers are legally prevented from bringing certain personal possessions into their workplace on a daily basis including mobile phones and other electronic forms of communications.


Application Process

How to Apply
The application form can be found here by selecting "Apply Now" at the bottom of the page (you will be redirected to publicjobs). You must complete the application form in full and click the submit button.

Once you have submitted your application form you should return to your publicjobs account and confirm that it has been successfully submitted via ‘My Applications’.

Only one application per person is permitted.

Only fully completed and submitted applications will be accepted into the campaign.

Closing Date

The closing date for receipt of applications is 3pm on Thursday 9 th January 2020

Selection Process
The selection process for the Recruit Prison Officer will comprise a number of stages. These may include one or more of the following:
 Completion of an online Assessment Questionnaire;
 Online and/or paper-based assessment test(s);
 Shortlisting;
 Presentation exercise;
 Work sample exercise;
 Group exercise;
 Language tests (oral and/or written),
 Interview(s);
 Physical Competence test
 Medical Examination
 Reference checks
 Any other tests/exercises deemed appropriate
N.B. Please note that observations from the Gardaí will be sought on all candidates who come under consideration for a position prior to being accepted or offered a position by the Irish Prison Service.
Prior to recommending any candidate for appointment, all such enquiries as are deemed necessary to determine the suitability and eligibility of that candidate, will be carried out.

They list all Irish prisons.

Mountjoy Prison: A closed, medium security prison for adult males. It is the main committal prison for Dublin city and county.
Dochas Centre: A closed, medium security prison for females aged 18 years and over. It is the committal prison for females committed on remand or sentenced from all Courts outside the Munster area.

Training Unit: Previously A semi-open, low security institution for males aged 18 years and over. In 2017 it was temporarily closed to be repurposed as a centre to accommodate older prisoners.

Wheatfield Place of Detention: A closed, medium security place of detention for adult males.

Cloverhill Prison: A closed, medium security prison for adult males, which primarily caters for remand prisoners committed from the Leinster area.

Portlaoise Prison: A closed high security prison for adult males. It is the committal prison for those sent to custody from the Special Criminal Court and prisoners accommodated here include those linked with subversive crime.

Midlands Prison: A closed, medium security prison for adult males. It is the committal prison for counties Carlow, Kildare, Kilkenny, Laois, Offaly and Westmeath.

Shelton Abbey: An open, low security prison for males aged 19 years and over who are regarded as requiring lower levels of security.
Cork: A closed, medium security prison for adult males. It is the committal prison for counties Cork, Kerry and Waterford.
Limerick Prison: A closed, medium security prison for adult males and females. It is the committal prison for males for counties Clare, Limerick and Tipperary and for females for all six Munster counties.
Loughan House: An open, low security prison for males aged 18 years and over who are regarded as requiring lower levels of security.
Castlerea: A closed, medium security prison for adult males. It is the committal prison for remand and sentenced prisoners in Connaught and also takes committals from counties Cavan, Donegal and Longford.
Arbour Hill: A closed, medium security prison for adult males. The prisoner profile is largely made up of long term sentenced prisoners.
Stack House: The Irish Prison Service Training College
Prison Service Headquarters: The main administrative centre for the Irish Prison Service located in Longford.

The closing date for applications is January 9 2020.

To see the application form on click here.

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