Léim ar aghaidh chuig an bpríomhábhar
Gnáthamharc

Thursday, 25 Nov 2021

Written Answers Nos. 305-321

An Garda Síochána

Ceisteanna (305)

John Lahart

Ceist:

305. Deputy John Lahart asked the Minister for Justice if she will request statistical information from the Garda Commissioner on the number of instances of spiking that have taken place to date in 2021; if she will request the views of the Commissioner in this regard; if such spiking took place in the form of an injection into the body of a third-party by syringe; the number of reports that have been made of the spiking of drinks to An Garda Síochána; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58098/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Spiking a person’s drink or spiking someone by injection are obviously very serious offences. They are, in effect, poisoning and they are criminal offences, under the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act 1997, that can result in a three year prison term.

I can assure the Deputy that any incident of this type of crime, including those with evidence to suggest a link with ‘spiking’, will be investigated by either local Gardaí supported by, or attached to, Divisional Protective Services Units.

As the Deputy will appreciate, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (as amended), the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of Garda business, including the direction of investigation priorities and the management of the PULSE system. As Minister, I play no role in these independent functions.

I have been advised by the Garda authorities that identifying incidents which involve drink or needle spiking is dependent on the use of keywords in the incident narrative or investigation notes. A search was carried out for incidents reported between 01 January 2021 and 21 November 2021 which include any of the following terms in the narrative or investigation notes: “spike”, “spiking” “needle”, “syringe” or “date rape”. Some incidents contained these terms but did not relate to drink or needle spiking.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that this search indicates that, as of 21 November 2021, there have been 46 crime incidents recorded nationally this year. 25 of these incidents specifically refer to syringes or needles. The remaining 21 either refer to drink spiking or do not specify the method of spiking.

Figures are based on data obtained from PULSE on 22 November 2021. I am informed that crime counting rules are not applied and all figures are operational and liable to change.

The Criminal Law (Sexual Offences) Act 2017 has been widely recognised as a landmark piece of legislation dealing with consent and exploitation in sexual activity. For the first time, it set out in statute what consent actually means - a free and voluntary agreement between people to engage in sexual activity.

The 2017 Act amended the Criminal Law (Rape) Amendment Act 1990, to set out certain circumstances where consent is impossible, such as when a person is asleep or unconscious, or if they are so drunk or intoxicated that they are in no position to consider the activity and make up their mind.

The commitment of this Government to combatting domestic, sexual and gender based violence and to supporting victims is reflected in the funding allocated under Budget 2022, with a total of €13m allocated to the Department of Justice in this area. This represents an increased allocation of €5.35m and will enable the roll out of specific awareness raising and training programmes to combat domestic, sexual and gender based violence. It will also provide additional supports to NGOs and specific domestic violence intervention programmes, and it will support a number of front-line activities.

The Deputy will be interested to note that a national public awareness campaign, led by my Department, around the meaning and understanding of consent in the context of sexual relationships will be launched in the new year.

Prison Service

Question No. 307 answered with Question No. 306.

Question No. 308 answered with Question No. 306.

Ceisteanna (306, 307, 308)

Patrick Costello

Ceist:

306. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice the details of all drug and alcohol treatment services available to prisoners in each prison in 2021, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58144/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Patrick Costello

Ceist:

307. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice the way drug and alcohol treatment services were provided in each prison in 2021, for example, in-person, by video or by telephone; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58145/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Patrick Costello

Ceist:

308. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice the number of persons who availed of each drug and alcohol service provided in each prison in 2020 and to date in 2021; the range of the shortest and longest of waiting list times for accessing each service; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58146/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I propose to take Questions Nos. 306 to 308, inclusive, together.

The information requested by the Deputy is currently being compiled and I will write to him directly when it is available.

Question No. 307 answered with Question No. 306.
Question No. 308 answered with Question No. 306.

Prison Service

Ceisteanna (309)

Patrick Costello

Ceist:

309. Deputy Patrick Costello asked the Minister for Justice the details of all harm reduction interventions, for example, naloxone distribution and needle exchange available in each prison; the number of persons who availed of each intervention in 2020 and to date in 2021, in tabular form; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58147/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The primary harm reduction intervention utilised by the Irish Prison Service is a healthcare professional consultation with the patient. This includes doctors when prescribing, addiction nurses and addiction counsellors, pharmacists and nurses when dispensing and administering Opioid Substitution Treatment.

Training and harm reduction education is provided by the peer-led Irish Red Cross programme and healthcare staff, including contracted pharmacists within the Irish Prison Service.

I can further advise the Deputy that there is no needle exchange in prison however there are treatments, counselling and training available for patients who wish to avail of addiction services.

Naloxone is not distributed in the prison, it is given to patients on their release from prison.

Patients must have completed the training and understand the risks associated with overdose.

Naloxone is available within the Prison Service for emergency use by trained staff.

The information requested by the Deputy in relation to the use of the prescription and supply of Nalaxone by prison in 2020 and 2021 to date is currently being compiled by officials.

I will be in direct contact with the Deputy when that information is to hand.

Crime Prevention

Ceisteanna (310)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

310. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the action being taken to combat crime levels as the festive season approaches; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58159/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will be aware, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána under the Garda Síochána Act 2005. This responsibility includes the organisation of specific operations and the assignment of personnel.

I am informed by the Garda authorities that the winter phase of Operation Thor was launched on 1 October 2021 and will run until 31 March 2022. Operation Thor is designed to tackle the increase in the number of burglaries and associated criminal activity that usually occur in winter months by undertaking targeted enforcement and preventative activity, highlighted through public information campaigns including 'Lock up, Light up' etc. These initiatives have been successful in dramatically reducing the rate of winter burglaries, leading to a significant decline in property-related crime since its introduction in 2015.

The National Crime Prevention Unit at the Garda Community Engagement Bureau also supports a nationwide network of Crime Prevention Officers. Each Garda division has an appointed Crime Prevention Officer.

An Garda Síochána continues to implement high visibility policing plans to address public disorder related issues and anti-social behaviour, with particular overt and targeted policing of public places at times when public order incidents and anti-social behaviour typically increase, such as bank holiday weekends.

In particular, An Garda Síochána commenced Operation Citizen on 22 October. This operation is focused on reassuring the public, residents, visitors, businesses and workers that Dublin city centre is a positive, safe environment. Particular focus is being placed on anti-social behaviour, public order and quality of life issues, assaults and high volume crimes. This will be achieved by increased visible policing, particularly at key locations, and further maximising the impact of that visibility. The Operation will also focus on community and stakeholder engagement.

I am also informed that Operation Hurdle has been established in the Wicklow Division each year since 2012 to target the theft of Christmas trees in the period between the end of October and Christmas. Operation Hurdle 2021 is running in conjunction with COVID-19 national policing patrols in the Wicklow Division and Operation Thor checkpoints stopping and checking vehicles transporting Christmas trees. The operation focuses on improving liaison with local Christmas tree growers, their staff and security staff. Patrols are carried out around Christmas tree farms in the Division. I understand that the operation has had a significant impact on reducing the level of Christmas tree theft over recent years.

The Deputy may also be aware of An Garda Síochána's enhanced national anti-drugs strategy, Operation Tara, which has a strong focus on tackling street-level dealing throughout rural and urban Ireland. The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels - international, national and local - involved in the importation, distribution, cultivation, production, local sale and supply of controlled drugs.

An Garda Síochána

Ceisteanna (311)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

311. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the number of promotional positions waiting to be filled within An Garda Síochána; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58160/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (as amended), for the management and administration of Garda business. This includes responsibility for the promotion and appointment to certain ranks within An Garda Síochána under the Garda Síochána (Appointment to the Ranks of Inspector and Sergeant) Regulations 2021.

Promotion and appointment to the ranks of Superintendent, Chief Superintendent and Assistant Commissioner are governed by the Garda Síochána Act 2005 and fall under the remit of the Policing Authority. As Minister, I have no role in these independent functions.

Appointment to the ranks of Deputy Commissioner and Commissioner are also governed by the Act and require the approval of Government.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that, as of 31 October 2021, the number of vacancies in An Garda Síochána at the ranks in question is indicated in the table.

RANK

CURRENT STRENGTH

APPROVED STRENGTH

VACANCIES

COMM.

1

1

0

D/COMM.

2

2

0

A/COMM.

8

8

0

C/SUPT.

46

47

1

SUPT.

166

168

2

INSP.

415

482

67

SGT.

1893

2210

317

TOTALS

2531

2918

387

The Deputy may wish to note that a competition for promotions and appointments to the rank of Sergeant is currently being carried out under the remit of the Public Appointments Service, following the introduction of new Regulations to modernise the promotion process for the ranks of Sergeant and Inspector. I am advised that a competition for the rank of Inspector is expected to commence in early 2022.

An Garda Síochána

Ceisteanna (312)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

312. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the degree to which the strength of criminal gangs continues to be monitored; if a noticeable change as to the degree of their activity has been seen; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58161/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

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. A concerted effort has been made over the past year to ensure that the detection and prevention of these types of criminal activity have not been adversely affected by the unprecedented demands placed on policing services by the vital enforcement of public health restrictions.

As the Deputy will be aware, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, including Garda operations aimed at preventing and countering criminal activity, and the enforcement of legislation pertaining to illegal drugs. As Minister, I have no direct role in these matters.

The Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) is having significant success in disrupting drug trafficking and the supply of illicit drugs by organised crime groups. The Bureau’s work is supported by Divisional Drugs Units nationwide, and by all Gardaí working in local communities. GNDOCB also works closely and productively with international law enforcement partners. Gardaí continue to work closely with local authorities, HSE, NGOs, community groups and other state agencies to tackle the problems of drug addiction and abuse.

The Deputy may be aware that the Department of Health leads on Government policy in the area of drugs, and this policy is guided by the national drugs and alcohol strategy "Reducing Harm, Supporting Recovery - a health led response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland 2017-2025". This strategy represents a whole-of-Government response to drug and alcohol use in Ireland. The implementation of the strategy is led by my colleague, the Minister for Health, however the strategy includes actions for all stakeholders, including my Department and An Garda Síochána.

The strategy recognises the need for a balanced health-led approach - reducing demand, while also reducing access to illegal drugs, and is aimed at reducing the number of people criminalised for the possession of drugs for personal use. While this strategy supports the vulnerable people who use drugs, it is also matched with strengthened enforcement measures across government to tackle the supply of illegal drugs. Sustained action by An Garda Síochána has continued unabated throughout the current pandemic, bringing significant convictions and ongoing seizures of drugs, firearms and ammunition.

I can inform the Deputy that on 2 July 2021, An Garda Síochána commenced an enhanced national anti-drugs strategy, Operation Tara, which has a strong focus on tackling street-level dealing throughout rural and urban Ireland. Operation Tara is focused on tackling street-level dealing throughout rural and urban Ireland. The focus of Operation Tara is to disrupt, dismantle and prosecute drug trafficking networks, at all levels - international, national and local - involved in the importation, distribution, cultivation, production, local sale and supply of controlled drugs.

Recent successes of Operation Tara include;

- Gardaí attached to the Divisional Drug Unit at Kevin Street Garda Station, with assistance from the Divisional Crime Task Force, conducted a search under warrant at a residence in Ringsend, Dublin 4 and seized €123,000 worth of controlled drugs on Friday 8th October 2021.

- As part of Operation Tara, Gardaí from Naas recovered cannabis herb worth €100,000 in the course of searching a stolen motor van in Allenwood, Co Kildare on the 9th October.

- Gardaí from the detective and drug units in Gorey and Enniscorthy, conducted a search of a residence in Bunclody and seized a combined €304,000 in cannabis and cocaine on Saturday, 23rd October 2021, approximately €100,000 of cannabis herb, €180,000 in cannabis resin and almost €24,000 worth of cocaine (subject to analysis) was located at the residence.

- Gardaí from Cork based Drugs Units have seized drugs worth €140,000 and arrested two males in the course of an operation in Cork on Thursday, 4th November 2021.

All drugs seized are subject to analysis by Forensic Science Ireland (FSI).

I am informed by the Courts Service that statistics relating to drug convictions, broken down by District and Circuit Court cases, are published each year in the Courts Service’s annual report and can be found on the Courts Service website, at www.courts.ie/annual-report.

I am further informed that membership of criminal gangs is not noted by the Courts Service during the course of criminal cases.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that, as of 18 November, the Garda National Drugs and Organised Crime Bureau (GNDOCB) has made 151 arrests and has seized €51.84m in illicit drugs, 4 firearms, 55 rounds of ammunition and €5.1m in cash in 2021.

An Garda Síochána

Ceisteanna (313)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

313. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the extent to which juvenile liaison officers have been allocated to each Garda district throughout the country; the ongoing plans in this regard; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58163/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible under the law for the management and administration of Garda business, including matters relating to the deployment of Garda personnel. As Minister, I have no direct role in this process.

I am advised by the Garda Authorities that Garda Juvenile Liaison Officers (JLOs) are specially trained to fulfil a key role in implementing the Garda Diversion Programme. Their role includes the administration of formal and informal cautions as well as appropriate supervision of children who have been admitted to the Diversion Programme, as provided in Part 4 of the Children Act 2001. The below table, furnished to me by the Garda Authorities, details the number of JLOs allocated to each Division.

Division

Inspector

Sergeants

Garda

Total

Cavan/Monaghan

0

0

2

2

Clare

0

0

1

1

Cork City

0

1

6

7

Cork North

0

0

3

3

Cork West

0

0

2

2

DMR East

0

1

5

6

DMR North

0

0

7

7

DMR North Central

0

1

3

4

DMR South

0

1

8

9

DMR South Central

0

1

4

5

DMR West

0

1

10

11

Donegal

0

0

3

3

Galway

0

0

4

4

Kerry

0

0

4

4

Kildare

0

0

3

3

Kilkenny/Carlow

0

0

2

2

Laois/Offaly

0

0

3

3

Limerick

0

1

5

6

Louth

0

0

3

3

Mayo

0

0

2

2

Meath

0

0

2

2

Roscommon/Longford

0

0

2

2

Sligo/Leitrim

0

0

1

1

Tipperary

0

0

3

3

Waterford

0

0

4

4

Westmeath

0

0

2

2

Wexford

0

0

3

3

Wicklow

0

0

4

4

Total

0

7

101

108

I am delighted that Budget 2022 includes funding for the recruitment of 800 new Garda recruits and 400 Garda staff in 2022 - a further additional 1,200 personnel, subject to the public health situation. This planned increase in the number of Garda members and staff is designed to deliver significant growth in operational policing hours nationwide and improved public safety and services to the public generally. Deployment of these resources is of course a matter for the Garda Commissioner.

Prison Service

Ceisteanna (314)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

314. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the extent to which investment in rehabilitative training within the prison system continues to be made available to first-time offenders; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58164/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

Prisoner care and rehabilitation is a core aim of the Irish Prison Service. Various forms of rehabilitative training within the prison system continue to be made available to all prisoners, including first time offenders.

A range of programmes including education, vocational training, healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, addiction counselling, welfare and spiritual services are provided with the aim of offering purposeful activity to all those in custody while serving their sentences.

There is a clear commitment to enhance sentence planning through Integrated Sentence Management and the delivery of prison based rehabilitative programmes. The Joint Irish Prison Service/ETBI Education Strategy 2019 - 2021 sets out a commitment to the provision of broad based education provision and includes supporting integration and sentence planning. Education in prisons is delivered in partnership between the Education Training Boards and the Prison Service and a broad and flexible curriculum is provided. A top priority for the Service is ensuring support for those with literacy problems, and to this end, peer mentoring programmes are active in all prisons.

The guiding principles which underpin the prisons' work and training service provision are to make available work, work-training and other purposeful activities to all those in custody. Activities are chosen to give as much variety as possible and also to give opportunities to acquire practical skills which will help secure employment on release. Work Training Officers have been appointed and assigned to areas such as catering, laundry, industrial cleaning and industrial skills.

The Prison Service has also been expanding the number of accredited courses and opportunities available to prisoners in Work Training in recent years. Enhanced partnership arrangements with accrediting bodies such as City and Guilds; the Guild of Cleaners and Launderers; Cleanpass and the centralising of coordination and quality assurance arrangements have enabled the Prison Service to extend the number of available courses and activities with certification to people in custody. Significant progress in prison education has also been made in physical education, in the provision for higher education, in the arts and in preparing people for release.

The "Working to Change Social Enterprise Strategy - 2021-2023" sets out my Department’s direction for supporting employment options for people with convictions by simultaneously working to remove systemic barriers so that people can make sustainable changes. It builds upon a solid foundation of employment supports already in place across the criminal justice sector and is a collaboration between the Prison and Probation Service and my Department.

In addition, the Psychology Service proactively targets specific cohorts of prisoners including violent offenders with over two year sentence, as well as 18-24 year olds in custody. Assistant Psychologists focus primarily on mental health and sentence management work with prisoners and are tasked with engaging and motivating this cohort of prisoners, who are committed to custody on a sentence of one year or more and who do not have a post-release supervision order to develop a sentence plan and to engage in appropriate interventions.

The Probation Service have joined this initiative by engaging in assessments with those 18-24 year olds who have post release supervision orders. The strategic objective is to have a multi-agency approach to offender management and rehabilitation from pre to post imprisonment in order to reduce re-offending and improve prisoner outcomes. This forms a central part of the Prison and Probation Service Joint Strategic Plan.

Legislative Measures

Ceisteanna (315)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

315. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the extent to which racism and hate speech or hate mail continue to be targeted as an offence in need of urgent attention; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58166/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The Deputy will be aware that the Government is fully committed to the fight against racism, prejudice and bigotry, and strongly condemns the actions of those who abuse and attack others because of their own prejudices against a person’s religion, ethnic origins, sexual orientation or any other part of their identity as a human being. Ireland is a diverse and tolerant country, and such behaviour is not acceptable.

I am pleased to say that the General Scheme of the Criminal Justice (Hate Crime) Bill 2021 was published on 16 April and is available on the Department of Justice website. Following its publication, the General Scheme was referred to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on Justice and was subject to pre-legislative scrutiny on 17 November. The report of the Committee on the pre-legislative scrutiny is awaited. The Bill has also been referred to the Office of Parliamentary Counsel for drafting.

The Bill will create new, aggravated forms of certain existing criminal offences, where those offences are motivated by prejudice against a protected characteristic.

The General Scheme also provides for amendments to the Non-Fatal Offences Against the Person Act to provide for harassment aggravated by prejudice against one of the protected characteristics and provides for harassment aggravated by prejudice against a protected characteristic with threats to kill or cause serious harm.

The aggravated offences will generally carry an enhanced penalty, compared to the ordinary offence, and the record of any conviction for such an offence would clearly state that the offence was a hate crime.

In addition to my work on this legislation, my colleague, the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth is taking forward the Government commitment to publish a National Action Plan against Racism.

Prison Service

Ceisteanna (316)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

316. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the extent to which repeat offenders are being granted bail, including those who are members of organised criminal gangs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58167/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

The information requested by the Deputy is not available. However, I wish to advise the Deputy that I have asked my officials to discuss this request for information with the relevant Criminal Justice Agencies and the CSO to see what statistical information can be developed in this area.

As the Deputy is aware, the decision to grant bail in a particular case is a matter for the presiding Judge, who is independent in the exercise of his or her judicial functions. There is also a constitutional presumption in favour of the granting of bail as, under Irish Law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty. The presumption that a person is innocent until proven guilty has traditionally been considered by the courts to prohibit pre-trial detention except where it appeared that the accused person, if released on bail, was likely to evade justice by absconding or interfering with witnesses or evidence.

In the light of concerns at the increase in the incidence of offences committed while on bail, a referendum took place in 1996 on a proposed amendment to the Constitution to allow the courts to refuse bail where there are grounds for believing that the accused will commit serious offences while on bail. The referendum was passed and section 2 of the Bail Act 1997 gave effect to this constitutional amendment which permits the courts to refuse bail to a person charged with a serious offence where refusal of bail is reasonably considered necessary to prevent the commission of a serious offence by that person. Subsequent to this, the law on Bail has been strengthened on three occasions, specifically in the Criminal Justice Act 2007, the Criminal Justice Act 2015 and the Criminal Justice Act 2017.

As previously conveyed, I can inform the Deputy that Garda authorities advise that the amended bail laws have proven to be effective and have assisted An Garda Síochána in tackling the threat of organised crime.

In addition, the Government has also supported An Garda Síochána in addressing the threat from organised crime gangs through the introduction of legislative measures such as:

- The Proceeds of Crime (Amendment) Act 2016 which provides additional Garda powers for the immediate seizure of assets suspected of being the proceeds of crime to prevent them being disposed of;

- The Criminal Justice (Forensic Evidence and DNA Database System) Act 2014, providing for the establishment and operation of the DNA database providing Gardaí with links between people and unsolved crimes;

- The Criminal Justice (Amendment) Act 2009, introduced to protect the justice system from being subverted by criminal groups, including potential intimidation of juries.

Prison Service

Ceisteanna (317)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

317. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the extent to which recidivism is evident in the context of various levels of offences; the groups most seriously affected; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58168/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy may be aware, the Central Statistics Office regularly publishes both prison and probation re-offending statistics on their website www.cso.ie.

The Prison Re-offending Statistics measure the level of recorded re-offending by offenders who received a custodial sentence following their release from prison. The 3-year re-offending rate indicates the percentage of people who were convicted for a crime incident that was recorded within three years of their release. A further 2 years after the 3-year year period is set as the limit for a valid conviction to take place. The 1- year re-offending rate indicates the same measure but includes only those who were convicted of a crime within one year of their release, with a further year set as the time limit for the court outcome to take place.

According to the latest release of the Prison Re-offending Statistics 2011 – 2018, published in June of this year, out of the 1,323 persons who re-offended within a year of release in 2018, over a half (50.6%) re-offended in just two offence groups - theft (331) or public order related offences (339).

The Probation Re-offending Statistics measure the level of recorded re-offending by offenders that were placed under the management of the Probation Service. The re-offending rate indicates the percentage of people who were reconvicted for a crime incident that was recorded within a defined period (re-offence window) following the commencement of their Probation, Community Service or Post Release Supervision Order. The conviction must be within two years of the date that incident was recorded.

The latest Probation Re-offending Statistics 2017, published on 19 November, indicate that of the 1,368 individuals that re-offended within a year of receiving their probation orders in 2017, individuals were most likely to re-offend with an offence linked to Road and Traffic offences (23%), public order and other social code offences (22%), theft and related offences (17%), controlled drug offences (13%) and Offences against Government, justice procedures and organisation of crime (9%).

Further detailed statistical information can found at the CSO website statistics section at People and Society - Crime and Justice.

Non-custodial penalties, particularly supervised community sanctions, play a significant and important role in addressing criminality, reducing reoffending and providing a degree of protection to the public and this is supported by CSO figures on recidivism.

As the Deputy will be aware, the Programme for Government 2020 contains a broad range of policies and proposals that represent a coherent approach to enhancing and sustaining a more just and safe society with a specific commitment to review policy options for prison and penal reform.

As part of this work, a cross-sectoral group which includes the Head of Criminal Justice Policy, the Director-General of the Irish Prison Service and the Director of the Probation Service was established last year. This Group is taking forward the Government’s commitment to review policy options for prison and penal reform and is due to report by the end of the year. This work will build on a number of initiatives that have been introduced over the past decade to reduce reoffending including Community Return and Community Support Schemes and the Joint Agency Response to Crime (JARC).

An Garda Síochána

Ceisteanna (318)

Bernard Durkan

Ceist:

318. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice the number of gardaí available throughout County Kildare and the country in general to respond to any needs of the general public or emergencies arising; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58169/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, under the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (as amended), the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána, which includes the deployment of Garda members throughout the State. As Minister, I have no role in this independent function. I am assured however that Garda management keeps the distribution of resources under continual review, in the context of crime trends and policing priorities, to ensure their optimum use.

I have been informed by the Garda authorities that as of 31 October 2021, the latest date for which figures are available, there are 426 Garda Members assigned to the Kildare Division. This is an increase of 36.5% since the end of 2015, when there were 312 members assigned to the Division. I am further advised that the overall strength of An Garda Síochána is 14,298 sworn members of all ranks, an increase of over 11.5% since the end of 2015 .

I am pleased that Budget 2022 reflects the commitment of the Government to enhancing community safety and that An Garda Síochána has the resources to be an effective and trusted policing service.

The budget provided by Government to the Garda Commissioner continues to increase to unprecedented levels, with an allocation of €1.952 billion for 2021 and over €2 billion in funding in Budget 2022. Indeed since 2016, the budget for An Garda Síochána has increased by some €500m, or approximately 33%. This has enabled 3,340 new probationer Gardaí to be deployed, as well as continued investment in modern equipment. In addition, over 800 Gardaí have been redeployed to front line policing work through the recruitment of Garda staff.

I am delighted that Budget 2022 includes funding for the recruitment of 800 new Garda recruits and 400 Garda staff in 2022 - a further additional 1,200 personnel. This planned increase in the number of Garda members and staff is designed to deliver significant growth in operational policing hours nationwide and improved public safety and services to the public generally.

Redeployment of Gardaí from administrative and support roles will also continue next year, thus allowing highly trained Gardaí to focus on frontline policing duties. The organisation's capacity will be further strengthened by the recruitment of additional Garda staff, including to specialist roles to support the investigation of crime and enhance the management of the organisation.

An Garda Síochána have advised that a recruitment plan for 2022 is currently being developed to manage the recruitment processes for Garda members and Garda staff roles. Implementation will of course be dependent on public health guidelines but I very much hope it will be possible to maximise the intake to Templemore next year. I understand there are a number of successful candidates still to be called from the last competition but I am delighted to confirm that a new Garda Trainee competition is also being planned for early next year.

Both the Garda Commissioner and I are particularly keen that the new competition will focus on the need for greater diversity among rank and file Gardaí and we would encourage all those with an interest in joining the organisation to consider doing so.

Prison Service

Ceisteanna (319)

Ivana Bacik

Ceist:

319. Deputy Ivana Bacik asked the Minister for Justice the number of usable cells in each prison and overall across the State; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58189/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

I can advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service perform a quarterly census of the Prison estate and publish the results on their website, at www.irishprisons.ie/information-centre/statistics-information/census-reports/

I can further advise the Deputy that according to the latest census which was carried out on 19 October 2021 there were 3,211 usable cells across the estate.

Table 1 below provides a breakdown by prison of all usable cells as at 19th October 2021

Prison

Number in Custody

Useable Cells

One Prisoner

Two Prisoners

Three Prisoners

4+ Prisoners

Arbour Hill

129

115

99

30

0

0

Castlerea

285

244

127

158

0

0

Cloverhill

408

206

80

64

228

36

Cork

265

170

55

204

6

0

Limerick Female

28

24

20

8

0

0

Limerick Male

185

146

99

86

0

0

Loughan

94

102

94

0

0

0

Midlands

791

587

355

414

6

16

Mountjoy Female

119

97

49

70

0

0

Mountjoy Male

694

755

694

0

0

0

Portlaoise

210

267

145

56

9

0

Shelton Abbey

94

58

37

10

15

32

Wheatfield

536

440

284

252

0

0

Total

3,838

3,211

2,138

1,352

264

84

The key statistics from the Census relating to usable cells are:

- There were 3,838 prisoners in custody.

- 2,138 (56%) cells accommodated one prisoner.

- 676 cells accommodated two prisoners (1,352 prisoners).

- 88 cells accommodated three prisoners (264 prisoners).

- 20 cells accommodated four or more prisoners (84 prisoners).

- 3 prisoners accommodated in Safety Observation Cell.

- 11 prisoners accommodated in Close Supervision Cells.

The Irish Prison Service are currently progressing a number of projects that will deliver additional prisoner spaces over the next twelve months.

These projects include the reopening of the Training Unit to accommodate older prisoners, and will see 96 prisoner spaces return to operation.

In addition, the construction of a new male wing and standalone female prison is underway in Limerick Prison and will provide 90 additional male and 40 additional female spaces. This project is expected to be completed by the end of Summer 2022 and the new accommodation will become operational by the end of quarter 3 of 2022. This timeline assumes no further impact on construction activity or supply chain issues due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

An Garda Síochána

Ceisteanna (320)

Mark Ward

Ceist:

320. Deputy Mark Ward asked the Minister for Justice if each call to a Garda station is logged; if not, the reason therefor and if she will make a statement on the matter. [58231/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Justice)

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Garda Commissioner is responsible for the management and administration of An Garda Síochána under Section 26 of the Garda Síochána Act 2005 (as amended). This includes any policy or procedure related to the logging of calls or contact made to a Garda station. As Minister I play no role in these independent functions.

I am advised by the Garda authorities that calls for service from the public received by An Garda Síochána are logged at the time of the report, in line with internal Garda procedures. Calls for service will be logged on the Computer Aided Dispatch (CAD) System.

Calls for service are defined as requests from the public seeking Garda services which can be categorised as either emergency or non–emergency as a result of the nature of the call and/or the information available to the Call Taker and not by the means of access to the Call Taker (i.e. 999/112 via Emergency Call Answering System (ECAS) or non-999).

Hospital Facilities

Ceisteanna (321)

Michael Collins

Ceist:

321. Deputy Michael Collins asked the Minister for Health the number of ICU beds in Ireland in 2019, 2020 and to date in 2021; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [58046/21]

Amharc ar fhreagra

Freagraí scríofa (Ceist ar Health)

According to the National Adult Critical Care Capacity Census 2019, there were 255 permanent adult critical care beds open in September 2019.

In 2020, funding was provided in 2020 on a temporary basis to put 40 additional beds in place as part of the response to Covid-19.

In 2021, very significant funding of €52m was provided by Government for the permanent retention of the 40 additional critical care beds funded temporarily in 2020, and for the opening of a further 26 beds in new build capacity. The HSE has advised that 42 beds are now open, bringing baseline capacity to 297 to date in 2021, although the number of beds open on any given day fluctuates as a result of a variety of factors.

In 2022, an additional €10.5m is being provided to fund a further 19 permanent critical care beds. This will bring the number of permanent critical care beds from 255 in 2020 to 340 by the end of 2022/early 2023. This represents a 33% increase, or an additional 85 beds funded since 2020.

The Health Service Capacity Review, which was noted by Government in 2018, recommended that an additional 190 critical care beds should be in place by 2031, bringing the total to 430. Accordingly, the Strategic Plan for Critical Care, which was noted by Government in December 2020, aims to increase capacity from the 2020 baseline of 255 critical care beds, to 446 over time, to fully address the Capacity Review’s recommendations in regard to critical care.

Barr
Roinn