Press Statement from Prison Officers Association Annual Delegate Conference, Galway, 28th April 2023
Recruitment a Major Problem in the Prison Service
Speaking at the Prison Officers Annual Delegate Conference in Galway today, Gabriel Keaveny, Deputy General secretary said. “We must find a solution to the ongoing problem with recruitment to reduce the burden of those in service. And I am now asking the Minister to introduce three initiatives which will assist the process:
- Fast track the upcoming Recruitment Drive.
- Ensure that the recruitment drive is as professional as the one currently being run by the An Garda Siochana that will attract the right people to our service.
- Prioritise the Security Clearance system, a system that can currently see an applicant waiting up to a year for clearance, and get applicants cleared for work in our prisons rather than the current snail’s pace which inhibits panels being put in place in a timely fashion”.
“The POA totally supports the recruitment of more officers. Around 30 years ago a massive recruitment campaign saw a huge intake of prison officers so we are now approaching a period where all these people will have completed their service and will be eligible to retire. Many of our prisons are already understaffed and retirements will only serve to worsen the situation. So, we have a problem here which must be resolved, or we will have a real security issue on our hands in the immediate future.
Keaveny continued, “The big question here is WHY? Why is security clearance taking so long? Why can the Irish Prison Service not attract individuals to the job of a Prison Officer? Why are they waiting until August to launch a new Recruitment Drive”?
“The people in our care are not as patient or understanding as society in general as can be seen from my earlier comments on assaults. Staff shortages change the dynamic of our work to the extent that procedures, such as the Regime Management Plan which are an agreed Health & Safety tool that were to be employed on an odd occasion, are now required daily. That is IF the management do what they are supposed to do.
“Furthermore, when the annualized hours agreement was reached 18 years ago with the Government of the day the principal guiding factor in that agreement was that in order for the annualized hours system to work, there had to be continuous recruit availability in order to keep pace with retirements. So let’s stop the announcements and promises and solve the recruitment issue in the prison service”