asked the Minister for Justice the plans for providing psychiatric training for prison officers.
Ceisteanna—Questions. Oral Answers. - Prison Officers Training.
I should first like to refer to the arrangements for the treatment of persons in custody who may be suffering from mental illness.
If such a person requires in-patient psychiatric treatment he is transferred to the Central Mental Hospital, Dundrum, or to another mental hospital to receive it. Some persons in custody require psychiatric attention short of in-patient hospital treatment, and this is provided by visiting consultant psychiatrists. Visiting psychiatrists have sessions in the larger institutions on a regular basis and, in the smaller ones as required.
It is part of the duty of prison officers to observe the behaviour of persons in custody and to bring to the notice of the governor or medical officer any abnormal behaviour in a prisoner. Prison officers are briefed during their induction training course on the importance of close observation to identify behaviour which may call for attention. The briefing is provided by the training officers with the assistance, normally, of a clinical psychologist and a psychiatrist.
A small number of prison officers, called hospital orderlies, are given the special task of caring for prisoners who are unwell. As far as possible, prison officers with previous training or experience in general or psychiatric nursing are appointed as hospital orderlies. The Eastern Health Board conducted a special briefing course in 1976 for a number of prison hospital orderlies designed to make them more aware of general medical and psychiatric problems they were likely to encounter in a prison setting. It is planned to request the Eastern Health Board to repeat the course for a number of new entrants to the hospital orderly corps.