Wednesday, 28 January 2004

Questions (201, 202)

John Deasy

Question:

320 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the number of prison to court escorts and court to prison escort journeys that were made by remand prisoners for 2003. [2536/04]

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Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform)

The information sought by the Deputy is not fully available.

The number of escorted court appearances by persons already in prison custody totalled approximately 28,000 in 2003. It is not possible to state what percentage of these court appearances related to prisoners who were on remand at the time of the escort but the majority of prisoners attending court would fall into this category.

It should be noted that not all of these court appearances would have involved separate escorts. Depending on the court list, a number of prisoners are taken as part of a single escort party.

In the vast majority of the cases referred to, the prisoner would have been returned to prison after his or her court appearance. Additional persons, for instance those on bail prior to sentence, would also be brought to the prison from the court under escort following imposition of a custodial sentence.

John Deasy

Question:

321 Mr. Deasy asked the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the type of escort that attaches to convicted persons on their journey to and from prison; and the number of such persons who accompany such a prisoner. [2537/04]

View answer

Essential daily escorts in the prison system include occasions where prisoners are brought to hospital, for court appearances or to another prison. The level of security on escorts is tailored to the profile of each individual prisoner. This is determined by prison management in consultation with the gardaí, where necessary.

In general, there are three types of escort. These are as follows: low security escorts are provided for prisoners who are considered a low risk. For example, these would include escorts for prisoners who are in an open prison and non-violent women prisoners; handcuffed escorts — most escorts are under handcuffs, and I refer the Deputy to my answer to Parliamentary Question No. 126 of 4 December 2003 for the underlying reasons for this; and armed escorts are provided for prisoners who are considered a high security risk and who may attempt to escape with or without the aid of accomplices. Such prisoners may have subversive links or may be involved in organised crime.

The number of persons accompanying any one prisoner would depend on their security profile but, for obvious security reasons, I cannot go into details on these arrangements.