I am informed that the Irish Prison Service (IPS) does not currently record information in relation to specific instances of time spent in the care of the State for persons in prison custody. However there is evidence available internationally that children in care are much more likely to be cautioned or convicted of a criminal offence. It is undoubtedly the case that many offenders have experienced significant disadvantage and trauma. I am informed that a number of services are in place to seek to address these needs while the person is in custody.
For example, I am advised that the IPS Psychology Service provides a number of interventions, both in a group and on an individual basis, which support individuals who have had adverse childhood experiences, including having been placed in care. These include a Comprehensive Resource Model group programme which is a trauma-specific, recovery-based therapy. It also involves other therapies which address cognitive, affective and behavioural instability that often results from adverse childhood experiences (ACEs). These include Mentalisation therapy, Dialectical Behaviour therapy, Cognitive Behaviour therapy and Schema therapy.
I am also advised by the Irish Prison Service that during the course of clinical and therapeutic interventions with individual prisoners, their personal background, including any experiences in the care of the State, may be discussed as part of that engagement with a professional service. However, any personal history information is only recorded as part of confidential case notes and is not currently collated for any statistical purposes.
As the Deputy may be aware, my Department’s Data and Research Strategy 2018-2020 was launched in July 2018. This Strategy aims to facilitate better collaboration and information sharing between the Department and its agencies and stakeholders in order to ensure better provision of data, information, analysis, evaluation and research. A Research Advisory Group, including external experts, has put in place a clear process for prioritising research projects for funding and a plan including internal and external research collaborations is currently being progressed.