Written Answers. - Prison Accommodation.

Bernard J. Durkan

Question:

144 Mr. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform if adequate custodial places currently exist; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [17306/03]

The provision of an extra 1200 prison places in recent years has largely addressed the issue of overcrowding which had become a chronic problem for the prison system. However, with many prisons operating at or near full capacity, some accommodation difficulties occur from time to time. It should be noted that this issue is not simply one of matching the global prisoner population to a global figure for beds or cells. A number of factors have to be taken into account including the prisoner's age, gender, the nature of the offence, location, security and whether they are on remand or sentenced.

The Government is committed in its agreed programme to complete the modernisation of prisons and to the provision of extra places so as to avoid overcrowding and the reopening of the revolving door.