High-security unit at half capacity since opening in 2018

High-security unit at half capacity since opening in 2018

The National Violence Reduction Unit (NVRU) – a high security prison unit designed to house Ireland’s most violent inmates – has remained only about half full since it opened 14 months ago.

The unit in the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise has specialist close supervision cells, nine for regular use and one for emergencies. It was designed with an emphasis on safety and intense psychological intervention for the most challenging prisoners in the system.

The Irish Prison Service (IPS) opened the unit in December 2018 at a cost of €2.7 million, after examining similar units in UK prisons.

Since then it has housed between four and six prisoners, IPS director of care and rehabilitation Fergal Black told The Irish Times. There are currently five prisoners in the unit, three in long-term cells and two in assessment cells, with a sixth expected to be moved there shortly.

Mr Black said the committee in charge of the unit has very strict criteria for who is admitted. Prisoners must have engaged in “serious, repetitive or escalating violence”.

This could be a single incident such as murder or attempted murder in a prison or a pattern of violent behaviour.

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