Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (551)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

563 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of deaths in prison custody that occurred in 2011; the number of deaths in prison custody in the first six months of 2012; and if he will provide a breakdown of the types of deaths in custody in each prison. [34854/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice and Equality)

All deaths in custody are the subject of a Garda investigation and an inquest held in a Coroner's Court. The cause of death is determined by a jury on the basis of the information presented to the Coroner's Court. The Inspector of Prisons, Judge Michael Reilly has recently been given responsibility to also investigate all deaths in custody. Such investigations will apply to prisoners who are in the custody of the Irish Prison Service, whether or not the death actually occurs within the prison walls, and to prisoners who have recently been let out on temporary release.

Furthermore, the circumstances of each death in custody are also examined by a suicide prevention group in each institution. The groups are chaired by Governors and include representatives from various services, i.e. Doctors, Psychiatrists, Psychologists, Chaplains, Probation Officers, Education and Prison staff. They are required to meet quarterly or more often if necessary. Their examinations cover fully the background and circumstances of each death. Their objective is to identify, where possible, measures which might be implemented to contribute to a reduction in the risk of deaths in the future.

There were 6 deaths in custody in 2011 and 4 to date in 2012. Of the 10 deaths since 2011, the cause of death has been determined as death by misadventure in 2 cases. Inquests are pending in the remaining 8 cases. A breakdown by prison is set out in the table below.

Prison

2012

Cause of Death (determined in a Coroner’s Court)

2011

Cause of Death (determined in a Coroner’s Court)

Castlerea

1

Inquest Pending

Cloverhill

1

Inquest Pending

Limerick

1

Inquest Pending

Midlands

1

Inquest Pending

1

Inquest Pending

Mountjoy

2

Inquests Pending

1

Death by misadventure

Wheatfield

2

1 — Death by misadventure1 — Inquest Pending

Total

4

6