Thursday, 30 May 2013

Questions (196)

Ciaran Lynch

Question:

196. Deputy Ciarán Lynch asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons in prison; the number in each institution; the total number of prisoners not held in single cells or rooms; the number of these in each institution; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [26320/13]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The average number of prisoners in custody in Ireland has risen in the last 5 years, from 3,321 during 2007 to 4,318 during 2012, an increase of over 30%. Likewise the total number of committals to prison has also risen sharply during the same period, from 11,934 in 2007 to 17,026 in 2012 – an increase of over 43%.

Given the current number of prisoners in custody - 4,254 on 28 May 2013 - the Irish Prison Service is not in a position to provide single cell accommodation to all prisoners. Single cell occupancy across the system would result in a bed capacity of less than 3,000 and would not be possible to achieve without releasing sizeable numbers of prisoners considered to represent a threat to public safety.

In addition it should be borne in mind that in some cases prisoners are housed together for reasons other than lack of capacity. Family members, friends and co-accused prisoners often elect or are assigned a shared cell. Shared cell accommodation can be very beneficial from a management point of view particularly for those who are vulnerable and at risk of self-harm. There will always be a need for certain prisoners to be accommodated together.

As outlined in the Irish Prison Service Three Year Strategic Plan, it is intended to align the capacity of our prisons with the guidelines laid down by the Inspector of Prisons by 2014, in so far as this is compatible with public safety and the integrity of the criminal justice system. In 2012 and in the first quarter of this year, priority was be given to reducing the chronic overcrowding in Mountjoy, Cork, Limerick Prisons and the Dóchas Centre.

The information requested by the Deputy is set out on the table below and is reflective of the information available on 28 May 2013.

Institution

In custody

 Single cells/rooms

Prisoners not in single cells/rooms

Arbour Hill

143

84

59

Castlerea

349

144

205

Cloverhill

419

51

368

Cork

225

42

183

Dochas

140

68

72

Limerick

237

78

159

Loughan

135

82

53

Midlands

746

324

422

Mountjoy (Male)

528

324

204

Portlaoise

258

178

80

Shelton

110

37

73

St Patricks Institution

155

155

n/a

Training Unit

112

80

32

Wheatfield

697

211

486

Total

4254

1858

2396