Tuesday, 17 December 2019

Ceisteanna (256)

Joe O'Brien

Ceist:

256. Deputy Joe O'Brien asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prisoners categorised as homeless on committal to prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [52614/19]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that the following table sets out the number of prisoners who at the time of their committal were recorded as having declared their accommodation status as ‘no fixed abode’ in each of the past 5 years.  It should be noted that it is the individual's own choice whether or not to disclose their homeless status to the prison authorities. 

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No of committals with no fixed abode, as disclosed by the prisoner

2018

2017

2016

2015

2014

502

415

316

305

265

 

In practical terms, it may also be noted that a number of prisoners entering custody, particularly in urban areas, have been living in private rented accommodation so tenancy can often be lost on committal to prison.

I am advised that, if a sentenced prisoner informs prison authorities that they were homeless prior to coming into custody or that they are at risk of homelessness on release, they are then referred to the prison-based resettlement service. The resettlement service works with the prisoner and the relevant local authority to identify possible accommodation solutions in preparation for their release and reintegration to the community.

The Irish Prison Service has confirmed that, in 2018, the Resettlement Service assisted 414 prisoners to make applications for social housing and worked with local authorities to provide details of housing requirements prior to release.  I am informed that this year, to the end of October 2019, the Resettlement Service had submitted 303 such applications for social housing.  The Deputy may also be interested to know that this year, as of end October 2019, the Resettlement Service has engaged with 1,796 prisoners in custody to address various resettlement needs including housing, social welfare and/or medical supports.