herald

Wednesday 11 December 2019

Security alert as 50 prisoners protest over exercise yard access

Midlands Prison
Midlands Prison

Around 50 inmates caused a security alert in the Midlands Prison after staging a protest over access to the exercise yard.

Last Friday, dozens of prisoners held a protest in the yard and refused to return to their cells.

Officers in riot gear are understood to have been deployed, while senior officials negotiated with the prisoners.

However, following a brief stand-off, the incident passed off without any injuries or damage being caused.

The inmates were protesting over access to the exercise yard under a new Regime Management Plan (RMP), while the director general of the Irish Prison Service (IPS) has comm- ended all of the staff involved.

It is understood the new plan is encouraging prisoners into other activities such as educational services rather than solely being in the yard for two daily slots.

The IPS said it is a tool to ensure the delivery of its policies and structured activities against the backdrop of reduced staffing levels.

Stability

"Once developed, the Regime Management Plan will outline the level of activities and services which can be provided on any given day, and give staffing levels, bringing a level of predictability and stability to the operation of the prison," an IPS spokesperson said.

"The plan is heavily focused on ensuring the continued delivery of structured activities to prisoners and on encouraging prisoners to engage in structured activities by prioritising the assignment of staff to these services."

Around 6pc of posts in the Midlands Prison are currently vacant, which the IPS has described as a "small shortfall in resources".

This shortfall is being addressed through an ongoing recruitment campaign.

The spokesperson added that there was an increased demand for prison officers, who were needed for more prison escorts.

"The Irish Prison Service has noted an increase in escort requirement, particularly attendance at courts," the spokesperson said.

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