Irish Prison Service

A.     Service overview and contact details 

Focus of restorative justice (RJ) and restorative practice (RP) activities

The IPS Strategic Plan 2019–2022 commits to ‘exploring and examining mechanisms for incorporating restorative justice principles throughout the Irish Prison Service’ (Action 5.7). From 2012-2014, the Irish Prison Service (IPS) ran restorative justice pilot programmes in two Dublin prisons, Wheatfield and the Dóchas Centre, in line with its strategic plan for 2012–2015. The pilot was discontinued due to limited training funds and resources. A Prison Service Victim Liaison Office has been in existence for many years. It contacts victims of crime who so request to inform them of any significant developments in the management of the perpetrator’s sentence (such as temporary releases, parole board hearings, prison transfers, expected release date).

Year of commencement (RJ/RP elements) 

See above

Service details

Irish Prison Service

IDA Business Park 

Ballinalee Road 


Co. Longford



Tel: 043 333 5100

Head of service 

Caron McCaffrey

Director General

Tel: 043 333 5100

Staffing structure

The Victim Liaison Office is part of the Operations Directorate of the IPS. It comprises a part-time Victim Liaison Officer with administrative support.

Staff training in RJ/RP

Action 5.7.1 of the IPS Strategic Plan 2019-2022 commits to ‘include restorative justice principles in the training of staff, including all new recruits’. Training in restorative practice has been delivered to IPS College staff by a staff member who is an accredited RP trainer and recruit training materials have been revised to incorporate restorative practice approaches. Roll out of the revised training commenced in autumn 2020.

For the IPS RJ pilots held in Wheatfield Prison from 2012-2014, Class Officers, Assistant Chief Officers, Chief Officers, Governors, Psychologists, Probation Officers and Chaplains received some level of RJ training prior to roll out of the pilots. The training and awareness raising activities included:

  • 1-Day Conflict and RJ Awareness 
  • 3-Day RJ Conference Facilitator Training
  • 1-Day Governor Training
  • Prisoner Information/Awareness.

Use of volunteers 

Not applicable

Volunteer training in RJ/RP

Not applicable

Main source(s) of funding

The IPS is funded by the Department of Justice (DoJ).

Annual budget

The IPS budget for 2020 is €383m.

Nature of funding

The IPS receives an annual budget from the DoJ.

Organisational status 

The IPS is a state body that operates as part of the DoJ.

Target client group 

The IPS deals with male and female offenders who are 18 years of age or over.  

The two IPS RJ pilots run from 2012-2014 were in medium-security, male and female institutions. There were no cases involving prisoners and their victims outside the prisons.

Nature of offences 

The two IPS RJ pilots in 2012-2014 were targeted at inter-prisoner and staff-prisoner disagreements or violence. The pilots were discontinued and have not been replaced to date.

The Victim Liaison Office Unit maintains regular contact with the Probation Service’s Restorative Justice and Victim Service Unit (RJSVU), which provides ‘appropriate and timely responses to requests for Restorative Justice interventions’ from victims. The RJSVU offers Victim-Offender Mediation, RJ Conferences, Offender Reparation Panels and Bespoke Restorative Interventions. The RJSVU may consider restorative justice for any type of offence or offender.

Source of referrals

Engagement with the IPS Victim Liaison Service and the Probation Service’s RJSVU is voluntary and victims self-refer.  

Geographic area of activity

The two prison-based RJ pilots were run in Dublin based prisons: Wheatfield and the Dóchas Centre.

The IPS Victim Liaison Service is based in Longford and works with victims from all over the country.

B.     Nature of RJ/RP service

RJ/RP services provided

  1. Pilot restorative justice programme
  2. Victim liaison, adoption of restorative approaches

The IPS pilot restorative justice programme in Wheatfield focused on conflict awareness and resolution, disciplinary adjudication and community reparations. The purpose of these programmes was to provide prisoners with another avenue to address and take responsibility for their offending behaviour, make reparations to the community and raise victim awareness among the prison population. A scripted restorative conference approach was taken. Victims of prisoners’ original offences were not involved.

Victim liaison, adoption of restorative approaches: see above

Activity levels

The pilot programme in Wheatfield dealt with 120 cases. Victims of the original offences were not involved.

Community participation 

Not applicable

Offence breakdown  

Not available

Offender age and gender breakdown

Not available

Outcomes (e.g. court outcomes, agreement completion, participant satisfaction)

Of the 120 cases dealt with in the Wheatfield pilot programme, there was an 83 percent non-reoffending rate in the prison post-conference. 

C.     Sources of further information 


Irish Prison Service

Annual Reports and Strategies

Irish Prison Service and The Probation Service

Irish Prison Service


ACJRD Conference