Tuesday, 17 July 2012

Questions (553)

Jonathan O'Brien

Question:

565 Deputy Jonathan O’Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of transfers that were effected within the prison system in 2011; the number of these that were involuntary; and the circumstances in which an involuntary transfer may take place. [34856/12]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Minister for Justice and Equality)

I can advise the Deputy that the number of transfers that were effected within the prison system in 2011 was 9,060.

It is not possible to provide the Deputy with the breakdown of information requested in relation to the number of transfers that were involuntary, as this would require the manual examination of records. Such an examination would require a disproportionate and inordinate amount of staff time and effort and cannot be justified in current circumstances where there are other significant demands on resources.

As a guiding principle the Irish Prison Service attempts to place prisoners in the location nearest to their family home. This principle is, of course, subject to appropriate security considerations, operational and legislative requirements. Common reasons for prisoner movements include court appearances, disruptive behaviour, conflict with other prisoners, to assist family contact, to participate in a particular training or educational course, to assist in reintegration or to alleviate overcrowding. Factors taken into account include length of sentence, nature of offence, medical needs, drug dependency, behaviour while in custody, the age of the prisoner, previous criminal record, engagement with the various services and the availability of accommodation.

Prison transfers take place on foot of administrative decisions made on my behalf. It would not be possible to operate the prison system if such transfers only took place on foot of requests from prisoners. To do so would inevitably lead to excessive overcrowding in some prisons, vacancies in others and circumstances which could lead to avoidable violent or dangerous incidents.