Written Answers. - Escapes from Custody.

Liz O'Donnell

Ceist:

522 Ms O'Donnell asked the Minister for Justice the number of escapes from places of detention in the State during the past 12 months; the circumstances of each escape; the action, if any, which followed the escapes or absconding; the number of such persons who have returned or been returned to custody; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [17021/96]

In the year, to date, there has been a total of nine escapes from custody. All the offenders involved were on escorted outings; three for court appearances, two for hospital visits, two on family visits and two on a recreational outing. Seven have since returned to custody, either voluntarily or by the Garda Síochána, while two remain at large. In addition, during the same period there was a total of 197 abscondings from open centres of which 144 have since returned to custody and 53 remain at large. During the same period 722 offenders were transferred to open centres.

When an escape occurs the Garda Síochána are immediately notified and an investigation into the circumstances surrounding the incident is carried out. Where appropriate, disciplinary procedures are instigated. Where the escape took place on an escort, the procedures involved are reviewed, in conjunction with the Garda where appropriate, and steps taken to avoid a recurrence. Where a person absconds from an open centre and is recaptured, they are automatically transferred to a secure prison.