Prison inspectorate system 'weighted in favour of complainants', say officers

Prison officers are calling on the Government for a new watchdog body to investigate complaints made by offenders.

The Prison Officers Association says the present inspectorate system is "most unsatisfactory" and should now be scrapped.

The call comes from the Association's annual conference in Sligo, where members have also called for pay increases.

Last week, senior counsel Gráinne McMorrow called for a prison ombudsman to be set up in the wake of her report into the death of prisoner Gary Douch - who was killed in his Mountjoy cell by another inmate.

That recommendation has been backed by the Prison Officers Association.

As it stands, the Inspector of Prisons Judge Michael Reilly oversees the complaints system - but warders say that process is "weighted in favour of complainants".

Association President Stephen Delaney says the overwhelming majority of complaints made in recent months have been spurious and not upheld.

He says an independent watchdog is the way forward.

The Association has also used its conference to call for the pre-recession pay scale to be restored.

Mr Delaney said all avenues will be explored to secure the pay entitlements.

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