Jail staff drunk on duty and not doing night checks, says director of prisons
Some Irish Prison Service (IPS) staff are breaching rules by being drunk on duty and failing to follow procedures for night checks and prisoner escorts, the agency's director general has said.
In an email to all IPS staff last Friday, Caron McCaffrey outlined new guidelines for managers to impose sanctions for disciplinary breaches, describing the current ones as not robust enough.
Ms McCaffrey said there is a "small group of staff who continue to engage in rule-breaking".
"There are occasions when some staff make a conscious decision not to act in line with our policies, protocols and procedures, ie failure to adhere to night-check procedures, being under the influence of alcohol, not adhering to escort procedures etc," she wrote.
"Failure to follow our processes and procedures can impact greatly on our ability to provide safe custody and increases the risk that you face [while] caring for those who have been committed to your care and responsibility."
Ms McCaffrey outlined new guidelines for disciplinary sanctions. She said these would deal with minor misconduct and gross or serious misconduct. She said she did not believe "we have a robust enough approach to dealing with misconduct".
She will shortly publish a new code of ethics "which will make explicit the standard of behaviour" staff must meet.
The Prison Officers' Association said it had been seeking a new code of conduct for the past decade. Its president, John Clinton, said: "We have clearly being stating that we have major concerns on the overall issue of our disciplinary code not being fit for purpose."