Significant Increase In Assaults On Midlands Prison Staff

New figures also show an increase in prisoner-on-prisoner attacks.

There was a significant increase in assaults in the midlands prisons last year.

19 staff members were assaulted by prisoners in the Midlands Prison in 2023, which is up from 13 in 2022, according to new figures.

There were 92 prisoner-on-prisoner assaults in the Midlands Prison last year, an increase of more than a third on the previous year.

While 12 prisoner-on-prisoner assaults were recorded in Portlaoise Prison in 2023, which is seven more than the year prior, however there were no prisoner-on-staff assaults.

110 staff were attacked by prisoners in institutions around the country last year, while there were also 663 prisoner-on-prisoner assaults, which is a 74% increase on 2022.

The Irish Prison Service says its staff work in an 'extremely challenging environment,' and any act of violence against an officer is unacceptable.

It also says all acts of violence are reported to Gardaí and there's specific legislation to deal with attacks on prison officers.

In a statement to Midlands 103, a Spokesperson for the Irish Prison Service says:

"Section 19 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994 specifically provides for assaults or threats to peace officers including prison officers acting in the execution of their duty. 

The Minister for Justice, last November announced to increase the maximum sentence for such assaults from 7 to 12 years. 

It is also vitally important that staff who are subject to an assault or who witness incidents in our prisons are given the necessary support afterwards.

All staff have access to the Employee Assistance Programme, with 3 full-time national Employee Assistance Officers. 

The EAP is supported at local prison level, by a network of almost fifty voluntary Staff Support Officers. 

This support network provides a confidential service offering information, advice and onward referrals on a wide range of personal and work-related issues. The Employee Assistance Programme plays a key role in supporting staff, particularly those who have been injured on duty.

The provision of an Independent Counselling Service for staff, which is provided by Inspire Workplaces, has been an important addition to the supports available to staff. 

This free Counselling Service is completely confidential and is designed to assist employees in resolving personal or work-related concerns. It is a Freephone helpline available 24 hour hours per day, with access to up to 6 counselling sessions for support covering a wide range of issues. 

The feedback from staff regarding this service is very positive."

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