Developed in conjunction with

Institutes of Technology Ireland
Research & Innovation

Enhancing the Professionalisation of the Irish Prison Service

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) operates as an executive agency within the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform. It strives to provide “safe, secure and humane custody for people who are sent to prison”.

The IPS wished to develop a new induction course that would be mandatory for new recruits to the Service. The aim of this course would be to equip new recruits with all the necessary skills to perform their duties, in line with the mission of the Service. 

The Department of Humanities at the Institute of Technology, Sligo (IT Sligo) has a strong record in the delivery of flexible learning  to ‘non-standard’ students, to communities and to public sector organisations, having previously developed programmes for the HSE, the Equality Authority and the Citizens’ Information Board.

IT Sligo was selected to develop the new induction course. In partnership with the IPS, a tailored programme of training was developed that incorporates a range of flexible and innovative teaching and learning strategies, including work- based and problem- based learning and distance education.

The Irish Prison Service and IT Sligo commenced delivery of the HETAC- accredited Higher Certificate in Custodial Care (HCCC) in September 2007. The programme is delivered over a two year period and provides a mix of professional and vocational training. A key feature of the HCCC is that of ‘co-delivery’, whereby IT Sligo staff lead in the academic delivery, while staff from the IPS lead in applying theory to practice. This ensures that the programme is applied to the complexities of modern prison work.

To date, 700 students have enrolled on the HCCC and are studying while working in the prison service. Almost 300 participants have graduated successfully with a recognised certification and an academic award from IT Sligo. Due to the success of this programme, IT Sligo is currently developing level 7 and 8 awards in this field for graduates of the HCCC who wish to continue their studies with IT Sligo. A level 6 award is also being developed to up-skill existing prison officers who are not required to undertake the HCCC. In addition, members of staff from both institutions are currently engaged in research activities that will assist in creating greater awareness of current practice in this wide-ranging field of study.


“The Irish Prison Service (IPS) has since 1 September 2006 been working closely with IT Sligo on the development and delivery of the Higher Certificate in Arts in Custodial Care (HCCC). What has emerged during this period of time is a model academic-employer partnership. As a third-level institution IT Sligo has demonstrated a number of key attributes that have also contributed to the development of this positive partnership. These include: Innovation, Flexibility and Commitment.”
John McGuckin - Governor, Irish Prison, Service Training and Development Centre

“This partnership between IT Sligo and the Irish Prison Service has brought significant benefits to the Department of Humanities. It has broadened the areas of research being pursued by staff with the Department. So much so, that we are looking forward to hosting the prestigious North/South Criminology conference later this year. This is a great opportunity to showcase the findings of our research.”
Dr. Perry Share - Head of Department of Humanities, Institute of Technology, Sligo

Client: Irish Prison Service
Institute of Technology Sligo
Industry: Retailing
National Priority Area: Innovation in Services and Business Processes

Head of Research
Dr. John Bartlett
Institute of Technology, Sligo
Sligo, Ireland
T: +353 (0)71 915 5314
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Industrial Liaison Manager
Mr. Niall McEvoy
Institute of Technology, Sligo
Sligo, Ireland
T: +353 (0)71 915 5385
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Programme Manager, Higher Certificate in Custodial Care
Fergus Timmons
Institute of Technology, Sligo
Sligo, Ireland
T: +353 (0)71 915 5499
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