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:
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.
|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|
|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 SETU Waterford 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 SETU Waterford 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.