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Prison service in talks with HSE and Department over personality disorder unit

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) is currently in talks with the HSE, Department of Health and Department of Justice and Equality regarding the establishment of a national personality disorder unit for prisoners, this newspaper has learned.

In November 2018, the National Violence Reduction Unit was established in the Midlands Prison, Portlaoise. The unit adopts a rehabilitative approach and a psychological service plays a key part in its management structure.

Director of Care and Rehabilitation at the IPS Mr Fergal Black told the Medical Independent that the experience of this unit has made the service look towards the establishment of a separate personality disorder unit.

“There is a huge preponderance of personality disorder among the prison population, something we recognised,” Mr Black said.

“There is also a hugely disproportionate level of serious and enduring mental illness among the prison population.

“We are in deliberation with the Department of Health, the HSE and our own Department [of Justice and Equality] in relation to what more we can do in any given week.

“This is a matter of public record; there are probably 20 to 25 prisoners who are on the waiting list for admission to the Central Mental Hospital.  There are simply not sufficient beds available.

“So we are looking at what we can do to provide better facilities for people with severe and enduring mental illness… ”

Last December, Minister for Justice and Equality Charlie Flanagan told the Dáil the National Violence Reduction Unit at the Midlands Prison was “completed at a cost of approximately €2.7 million and is capable of housing up to 10 prisoners”.

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