Higher Certificate in Custodial Care

CertificateCustodial Care

Part Time
College Street
2 years
120 ECTS

Since September 2007, all Recruit Prison Officers (RPO) must complete an accredited two-year Higher Certificate in Arts in Custodial Care (HCCC) programme. Since 2017, the HCCC has been co-delivered by the Irish Prison Service and Waterford Institute of Technology as an NFQ Level 6 learning programme.

The aim of the Higher Certificate in Arts in Custodial Care is to develop the character and competence of Prison Officers so that they can act responsibly and ethically in order to effectively contribute to the safe, secure and humane custody of the people in their care, in accordance with the IPS mission, vision, values and strategic objectives. It is intended that the programme will:

  • Inculcate in prison officers a values-based approach in their interactions with prisoners;
  • Provide prison officers with the skills to operate ethically and effectively in their role;
  • Develop an understanding of the importance of the role of the prison officer in the care and rehabilitation of prisoners.

The programme aims to form prison officers who are capable of and understand the importance of engaging in systematic reflection and evaluation of their practice as prison officers and who will proactively participate in a reflective community of practice in the prison environment. 

In order to facilitate the delivery of programmes during the Covid-19 pandemic, module outline and order may change slightly for the academic year 2020/2021.

Year 1

Semester 1 Semester 2
Crisis and Conflict Management Custodial Care Policy and Practice
Foundations of Practice Equality, Diversity and Cultural & Social Awareness
Learning to Learn Workplace Reflective Practice 1

Year 2

Semester 1 Semester 2
Ethical Dimensions to Custodial Care Human Rights
Contemporary Healthcare Issues in Ireland Criminal Justice, Criminology and Penology
Introduction to Social Psychology Workplace Reflective Practice Project II

Admission to the HCCC is restricted to approved employees of the Irish Prison Service.  All employees who enter the HCCC will have met the minimum requirements for entry into the Prison Service, and specifically will have achieved a pass at the Leaving Certificate or equivalent. The English Language requirements of employees of the IPS are sufficient to satisfy the English language requirements for this programme. Learners who are not IPS employees cannot transfer into the HCCC.

Learners must pass 3 month probation evaluation and all modules in Semester 1 to proceed to Phase 2.  A Passing-Out ceremony takes place when an RPO has passed the 3-month probation evaluation and is deemed to possess the skills and knowledge necessary to work under supervision in a Prison environment.  RPOs must pass a 5, 7 and 9 month probation evaluation to proceed from Phase 2 to Phase 3. Following successful completion of probation, all modules of the Higher Certificate in Custodial Care and 3 years of service, RPOs will progress to the grade of Prison Officer

Elements of the programme are delivered exclusively by the IPS, with most other elements delivered by WIT with IPS staff in partnership. The professional requirements of the IPS in developing its prison officers are paramount in the content and delivery of the programme; some modules, for instance, comprise entirely of prison-based skills training as necessary for officers to discharge their duties. 

The programme combines face-to-face workshops (in the Irish Prison Service College in the first instance), largely directed towards prison “craft”; face-to-face workshops (with WIT staff predominantly) that allow for the exploration of theory and practice relating to criminal justice and other areas and a variety of different online learning activities.

A key pedagogical approach underpinning the HCCC involves helping and supporting recruits to relate the theoretical concepts that they encounter in their modules to practice and to use these as tools to reflect on and in practice; the programme’ contributes to the holistic formation of the prison officer, ensuring prison officers are reflective professionals with key critical and analytical as well as practical skills. The prison as a workplace is in this way an integral learning environment for prison officer recruits and learning in the prison environment is supported in a number of ways.

Course Leader

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