Legal Aid Service Data

Questions (156, 157)

Gino Kenny

Question:

156. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons tried for cannabis-related offences that sought free legal aid in each of the years 2013 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14389/19]

View answer

Gino Kenny

Question:

157. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the cost of free legal aid for those tried for cannabis-related offences in each of the years 2013 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14390/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 156 and 157 together.

The Deputy will be aware that, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service and I have no role in the matter. Section 4(3) of the 1998 Act provides that the Courts Service is independent in the performance of its functions, which includes the provision of statistics.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the information sought by the Deputy cannot be provided as statistics in respect of drugs offences are not recorded in such a way as to tell the category of drugs e.g. cannabis. In light of this, it is not possible to provide the information sought regarding legal aid for cannabis related offences.

Crime Data

Questions (158)

Gino Kenny

Question:

158. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the average sentence for those imprisoned for cannabis-related offences in each of the years 2013 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14391/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service and I have no role in the matter. Section 4(3) of the 1998 Act provides that the Courts Service is independent in the performance of its functions, which includes the provision of statistics.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the information sought by the Deputy cannot be provided as statistics on record refer to drugs offences generally and are not categorised by the type of drug.

Crime Data

Questions (159)

Gino Kenny

Question:

159. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of cannabis-related offences before the Court of Appeal in each of the years 2013 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14392/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service and I have no role in the matter. Section 4(3) of the 1998 Act provides that the Courts Service is independent in the performance of its functions, which includes the provision of statistics.

However, in order to be of assistance to the Deputy, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has informed me that the records of the Court of Appeal are not maintained in such a way as to facilitate an answer to this question. It would be necessary to conduct a manual check of each appeal heard during the period concerned where a drugs offence was the subject of the conviction and/or sentence under appeal and it is not feasible to do so. The position is the same in relation to records of the Court of Criminal Appeal for appeals heard by that Court in 2013 and up to the 28th October 2014 when the Court of Appeal was established and inherited the jurisdiction previously exercisable by the Court of Criminal Appeal.

Crime Data

Questions (160)

Gino Kenny

Question:

160. Deputy Gino Kenny asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the street value of cannabis seized by An Garda Síochána in each of the years 2013 to 2018; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14393/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

The information requested by the Deputy is provided in the attached table from data available in the 2013 to 2017 annual reports of An Garda Síochána, the 2018 annual report is not yet published.

The continued disruption of the supply of all illicit drugs remains a priority for An Garda Síochána and the other state agencies tasked with responsibilities in this regard. An Garda Síochána remains resolute in its determination to act against those within society who pose a significant threat to the welfare and well-being of our citizens and the communities they serve. A core focus of the work carried out by An Garda Síochána is aimed at tackling drug distribution and organised crime.

In this regard, recent intelligence-led operations have resulted in significant drugs seizures by An Garda Síochána, including a seizure of cannabis herb with an estimated street value of €200,000 in Longford in February; and a seizure of cannabis herb with an estimated street value of €360,000 in Dublin earlier this month.

Tabular Statement

Year

2013

2014

2015

2016

2017

Cannabis Herb (grams/mls/plant)

925,883

1,226,027

558,678

479,695

2,597,258

Value

€18,517,659.00

€24,520,543.00

€11,173,554.00

€9,593,907.00

€53,290,457.00

Cannabis Plants* (grams/mls/plant)

28,851

15,463

12,539

7,273

9,046

Value

€23,080,800.00

€12,370,400.00

€10,031,084.00

€5,818,247.00

€7,237,175.00

Cannabis Resin(grams/mls/plant)

624,566

528,756

263,363

59,089

79,007

Value

€3,747,395.00

€3,172,534.00

€1,580,178.00

€354,533.00

€593,945.00

Yearly Total

€45,345,854.00

€40,063,477.00

€22,784,816.00

€15,766,687.00

€61,121,577.00

* Cannabis plants are calculated based on figures recorded on PULSE as not all plants seized are routinely sent to the FSL.

Restorative Justice

Questions (161, 162, 163, 164, 165, 166)

Clare Daly

Question:

161. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 167 of 13 March 2019, if the pilot programme referred to was written up and evaluated; and if not, the reason therefor. [14394/19]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

162. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 167 of 13 March 2019, if all four cases in which requests for restorative justice were received by the Probation Service resulted in victim and offender mediation. [14395/19]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

163. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if consideration will be given to establishing a stand-alone restorative justice service in view of the fact that the Probation Service is strongly aligned in the public mind with offenders (details supplied) [14396/19]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

164. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 167 of 13 March 2019, if he is satisfied that the existence of the dedicated restorative justice and victim services unit has been sufficiently widely advertised; and if a survey of victims has been conducted since its establishment to ascertain if knowledge of its existence is widespread. [14397/19]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

165. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality further to Parliamentary Question No. 167 of 13 March 2019, the options for restorative justice available to victims in circumstances in which the offender is not known to the Probation Service. [14398/19]

View answer

Clare Daly

Question:

166. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if his attention has been drawn to the recommendations contained in a study (details supplied); and if consideration will be given to implementing them as a matter of urgency in order to improve the availability of restorative justice services here. [14399/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 161 to 166, inclusive, together.

Ways of dealing more effectively with the impact that crime has on its victims have long been the subject of discussion and research. One intervention methodology which has developed as a response to criminal offending is victim-centred restorative justice. It is a methodology which, by its very nature, is evolving and developing further in response to the challenges facing the criminal justice system.

The Probation Service has for many years played a key role in the delivery of restorative justice practice as part of its overall mission of reducing re-offending and further victimisation in our communities. It is engaged in work in courts, communities and prisons. On any given day, up to 10,000 offenders, who are at different stages in the criminal justice process, are registered with the Probation Service. Although victims of crime may initiate a request for a restorative justice intervention at any stage in the criminal justice process, the interventions take place post-conviction. The interventions are part of court assessment and court orders, including community and prison based sanctions.

In the details supplied with this question, the Deputy refers to the recommendations contained in a study called "Sexual Trauma and Abuse: Restorative and Transformation Possibilities?" published in 2014. This study examined the potential of restorative justice to address the aftermath of sexual trauma and violence. Officials in my Department subsequently met with the author of the report and a research consultant to discuss the findings of the research. At that meeting, a case was made for establishing a stand-alone restorative justice service; one of the arguments being that the Probation Service is aligned in the public mind with offenders, not victims.

Following consideration of the matter, the then Minister took the view that the restorative justice model was properly located within the Probation Service. This view was informed by the expertise and skills of the service in working to reduce offending and victimisation in our communities, with the victim at the centre of this work. The Probation Service has been providing restorative justice services since the late 1990s through experienced and trained staff and in collaboration with its dedicated Community Based Organisations. I too am satisfied that the Probation Service has the expertise to continue its work in reducing offending and victimisation in our communities, including through the restorative justice model.

After the meeting with the authors of the 2014 Report, the then Minister asked the Probation Service to examine and make a proposal for the provision of a restorative Justice pilot programme for victims of sexual crime. In 2015 the Probation Service established a small two-year pilot programme, under the auspices of its Victim Services Team, to respond to requests from victims of sexual crime for victim-offender mediation. The pilot operated within a dedicated national structure, with all services provided by trained, experienced staff and with appropriate oversight and support. A review of the programme was undertaken by the Probation Service, covering the period September, 2015 to January, 2018. Its conclusions were that:

- A timely and effective response was provided to all requests for victim offender mediation.

- The availability of structured protocols to guide implementation was critical to ensuring effective and accountable practice.

- There is a need to ensure that there is an even spread of expertise across prisons and community.

- The provision of supervision and the use of peer support was central to the pilot and critical to safe and effective interventions.

- Liaison with partner agencies and NGOs was positive.

A dedicated Restorative Justice and Victim Services Unit in the Probation Service, with a national remit, commenced operation in September, 2018. This Unit provides leadership and support for the consistent delivery of restorative justice models across the organisation. The work of this Unit will continue to support and monitor the safe and effective delivery of restorative justice services to victims.

In my response to Dáil Question No. 167 of 13 March, 2019, I said that between January 2016 and January 2018 four requests for mediation were received under the pilot scheme. It would not be appropriate for me to indicate if all four cases resulted in victim-offender mediation. This is because, while the process is entirely confidential and facilitated by trained staff, the numbers are small enough to allow for identification of the individuals involved. As a general point, the process is wholly voluntary with either of the parties having the option to withdraw at any stage.

As to whether the existence of the dedicated restorative justice and victim services unit has been sufficiently widely advertised, there is on-going collaboration with victim advocacy organisations to facilitate contact by victims, as well as collaboration with other criminal justice agencies, such as An Garda Síochána and the Irish Prisons Service.

The Probation Service engages in other activities both to advertise its work in this area and to learn from restorative practices elsewhere. For example, it held a seminar on the subject of restorative justice during International Restorative Justice week last November. The subject was also discussed with a number of advocacy groups at an event on 22 February, 2019 to mark European Day for Victims of Crime. The Probation Service also made a presentation at a conference on Restorative Justice held in Maynooth University on 1 March, 2019. This conference served as the Irish launch of a four year project called "Restorative Justice: Strategies for Change" which is taking place in nine other European countries.

Fines Data

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A

Questions (167)

Seán Fleming

Question:

167. Deputy Sean Fleming asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number and amount of fines that were outstanding to the Court Service at the beginning of each of the years 2014 to 2018; the number and value of fines issued by the courts in the course of each of these years; the number and amount of fines collected by the Courts Service in the same period; the outstanding number and value of fines at the end of each of these years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14414/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

My Department is compiling the information in relation to this matter from the Courts Service and I will contact the Deputy directly as soon as I have the information to hand.

The following deferred reply was received under Standing Order 42A
I refer to Parliamentary Question No. 167 for answer on 27 March 2019 in which the Deputy requested the number and amount of fines that were outstanding to the Courts Service at the beginning of each of the years 2014 to 2018, the number and value of fines issued in the course of each of these years, the number and amount of fines collected by the Courts Service in the same period, the outstanding number and value of fines at the end of each of these years and if I will make a statement on the matter.
As the Deputy will recall, the information he requested could not be obtained in the time available and I undertook to contact him as soon as the information was to hand.
As the Deputy is aware, under the provisions of the Courts Service Act 1998, management of the courts is the responsibility of the Courts Service, which is independent in exercising its functions, which include the provision of information on the courts system.
However, in order to be of assistance, I have had enquiries made and the Courts Service has provided the attached report setting out the available information.
The level of fines uncollected is directly related to the time lapse since the fine was imposed i.e. if a fine was imposed in 2013 there has been up to 6 years in which to collect the fine whereas if a fine was imposed in 2018 there has only been a maximum of 12 months to collect the fine. Efforts to realise uncollected fines continue over a number of years.
Fines imposed in 2013, 2014 & 2015
For fines imposed prior to the commencement of the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 in January 2016, a term of imprisonment was set as a sanction for a fine default. When a fined person is lodged in prison on foot of a fines warrant, details of the warrant are recorded on the prison computer system. On a monthly basis the Prison Service provides the Courts Service with a spreadsheet detailing all fines warrants lodged in prisons. This data is then uploaded on to the Criminal Case Tracking System.
Fines imposed from 11 th January 2016
The Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 was commenced on 11th January 2016.
This Act introduced a number of default options that were previously unavailable prior to the commencement of the Act. The default penalty options available to the Judge are:
- Attachment of Earnings – this is only possible if the person is employed. Attachment of Social Welfare benefits is specifically prohibited;
- Recovery Order – for fines in excess of €500. These fines would be collected by a receiver who would be entitled to collect fees and expenses in addition to the amount of the fine;
- Community Service – the default penalty if neither of the two previous options is possible;
- Imprisonment – the final default option if none of the previous three options can be imposed.
Because these options were not available prior to the commencement of the Act, i.e. prior to January 2016, comparisons between the respective 3 year periods are inadvisable and may be misleading.
I am, however, aware that difficulties have been experienced in the implementation of the Act, which was introduced as a reforming and progressive measure and was widely supported in the Oireachtas. I have now authorised a review of the Act, its enforcement and related matters and to this end I am putting in place a high level working group.
The purpose of this group is to bring the expertise of all of the relevant stakeholders together so as to determine the most effective way of ensuring that the policy of minimal committals is preserved to the extent possible, while maximising the effectiveness of the alternative sanctions available to the courts in cases of default and to ensure that the integrity of the criminal justice process at this level is maintained and enhanced.
I hope this information is of assistance.

-

-

2013

-

2014

-

2015

-

2016

-

2017

-

2018

Fine Status

No of Fines

Value of Fines

No of Fines

Value of Fines

No of Fines

Value of Fines

No of Fines

Value of Fines

No of Fines

Value of Fines

No of Fines

Value of Fines

Due

7,406

€2,365,845.67

8,348

€2,911,497.55

12,992

€4,973,845.32

22,924

€8,915,713.29

39,614

€13,601,200.19

44,188

€14,425,740.13

Paid

39,509

€10,788,840.37

41,966

€11,225,071.07

38,573

€10,290,401.22

30,695

€8,225,903.95

26,352

€7,607,003.87

20,171

€5,532,392.78

Total

69,462

€21,086,292.02

73,803

€22,579,042.35

70,699

€22,481,510.74

67,500

€21,758,901.17

68,636

€22,240,098.17

68,410

€21,701,907.92

NB: The discrepancy between the figures for fines due plus fines paid and the overall total in each year is due to a number of fines imposed that are uncollectable, refundable, appeal pending, JR pending and part paid. In each of the years, 2013, 2014 and 2015, prior to the commencement of the Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014, the high number of committals accounts for the difference between the value of fines paid and the overall value of the fines imposed.
NB: The level of fines uncollected is directly related to the time lapse since the fine was imposed i.e. if a fine was imposed in 2013 there has been up to 6 years in which to collect the fine whereas if a fine was imposed in 2018 there has only been a maximum of 12 months to collect the fine. Efforts to realise uncollected fines continue over a number of years. Consequently the value of fines outstanding in 20162017/2018 is significantly higher than for 2013/2014/2015.

Direct Provision Data

Questions (168)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

168. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons with a registered disability residing in the direct provision system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14423/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Health services for protection applicants residing in RIA accommodation are mainstreamed. As such, protection applicants are linked with primary care, are entitled to a medical card while residing in RIA accommodation and have a waiver of prescription charges. Applicants access health services through the same referral pathways as Irish citizens including referral to disability services.

RIA work closely with the HSE to ensure that protection applicants are accommodated in locations where their medical needs can be met. RIA and the HSE work collaboratively to ensure that any special accommodation arrangements (i.e. ground floor accommodation, wheelchair accessible facilities etc.) are in place prior to dispersal where necessary.

While the HSE will collaborate with RIA regarding specific accommodation needs, the individual retains their right to medical confidentiality. As such the information provided to RIA will be related to the person's needs and not their medical condition.

For this reason RIA does not maintain statistics on the number of persons with a disability residing in direct provision accommodation.

Services for People with Disabilities

Questions (169)

Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin

Question:

169. Deputy Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the provisions in place to support persons with a disability living in the direct provision system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [14424/19]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Justice)

Applicants for international protection are offered accommodation by the Reception and Integration Agency (RIA) of my Department. If an applicant chooses to accept this offer they will, in normal circumstances, be first brought to the Balseskin Reception Centre, Dublin. Here, they will be offered a health assessment by the on-site HSE team which comprises a nurse, nurse specialist, area medical officer, GPs, social worker and psychologist. This ensures that applicants can be assessed for any special reception needs that they may have before they are designated an accommodation centre.

On occasion, due to capacity issues, it is not always possible to immediately accommodate new arrivals in Balseskin and they are offered emergency accommodation in hotels and guest houses secured by RIA. Safetynet, on behalf of the HSE, carries out health screening in a number of these emergency accommodation locations.

RIA works closely with the HSE screening team and with Safetynet to ensure that protection applicants are then dispersed to locations where their medical needs can be met. We also work collaboratively to ensure that any special accommodation arrangements (i.e. ground floor accommodation, wheelchair accessible facilities etc.) are in place as required.

It is important to note that services for protection applicants (including health services) are mainstreamed. Protection applicants are linked with primary care, are entitled to a medical card while residing in RIA accommodation and have a waiver of prescription charges. Applicants access health services through the same referral pathways as Irish citizens including referral to disability services.

Every effort is made to ensure that residents' specific needs are met. Where more intensive care needs are required, such cases are referred to the HSE.