Dáil Éireann - Volume 574 - 19 November, 2003

Written Answers. - Anti-Bullying Policy.

  240. Mr. Cuffe asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if the Prison Service has put in place anti-bullying and harassment policy and procedures for its staff as required under health and safety in the workplace legislation. [27758/03]

  Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform (Mr. McDowell): The Irish Prison Service recognises its obligation to create and maintain a positive working environment where every employee is treated with dignity and respect.

  The Civil Service policy document on harassment, sexual harassment and bullying entitled, A Positive Working Environment, applies to general and professional civil servants employed by the Irish Prisons Service. It is also appropriate that this policy should apply to prison staff and, pending finalisation of the relevant procedural changes, complaints in respect of such staff are being dealt with under the prevailing Civil Service policy. The need for revised procedural arrangements for prison staff arises having regard to the existence of the Prison (Disciplinary Code for Officers) Rules 1996 and the requirement to dovetail the Civil Service bullying and harassment policy with the said rules. The requisite con[1650] sultations between the Irish Prison Service and the relevant staff interests on the necessary changes are at an advanced stage and it is expected that they will be completed shortly.

  Each prison institution has a safety statement in place which is brought to the attention of all staff. This statement includes a section dealing with bullying and harassment in the workplace. The Irish Prison Service has also put on record its support for the Dignity at Work Charter, and a copy of this charter along with the policy document referred to above has been circulated to safety co-ordinators and safety representatives at each institution for information and for consultation by staff.