Wednesday, 13 June 2018

Ceisteanna (90, 91)

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

90. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of male prisoners accommodated in single cell accommodation in accordance with the recommendation of the Inspector of Prisons and Places of Detention; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25810/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Jim O'Callaghan

Ceist:

91. Deputy Jim O'Callaghan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if he is satisfied that there are adequate prison spaces for male prisoners in the prison system; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25811/18]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 90 and 91 together.

I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that figures in relation to cell occupancy levels are collated by the Irish Prison Service Statistics Unit for publication quarterly on its website, www.irishprisons.ie. The information can be found in the Information Centre – under Statistics & Information – Census Reports.  In accordance with the latest census on the 18th April 2018, there were 2,001 male prisoners accommodated in single cells.

Given the current number of prisoners in custody – 4,006 on 12th June 2018 - 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. 

It should be borne in mind that in some cases prisoners are housed together for reasons other than lack of capacity.  Family members and friends 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.

I am satisfied that there are adequate spaces for male prisoners in the prison estate, and these spaces are configured appropriately, to deal with all categories of prisoners.  The Deputy will appreciate that my officials are concentrating on aligning our prisoner population numbers with the Inspector of Prisons' recommended bed capacity in so far as this is compatible with public safety and the integrity of the criminal justice system.