Filter

Question

91. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality if the practice of doubling and trebling the number of prisoners in prison cells is draconian; if there should be one prison bed per prison cell, given that many prisoners in custody have mental health issues and problems with anger management and given that cell sharing is proving very problematic for prison staff and prisoners. [42289/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that figures in relation to the prisoner population and capacity levels are published on their website www.irishprisons.ie on a daily basis. The Deputy should be aware that the overall bed capacity of the Irish Prison System is 4,116. On 26th November, 2015 there were 3,777 prisoners in custody. This represents a capacity rate of 92 per cent.
On 14 October 2015, there were 3,685 prisoners in custody. Of that total, 2,040 (55 per cent) prisoners were accommodated in single cells. There were 660 cells accommodating 2 prisoners (1,320 or 36% of prisoners), 85 cells accommodating 3 prisoners (255 prisoners) and 16 cells accommodating 4 or more prisoners (70 prisoners) of which 12 were dormitory room style accommodation in Shelton Abbey Open Centre.
I can inform the Deputy that all committals are assessed upon arrival to prison and matters requiring interventions, such as mental health issues and anger management are identified and assessed. Further, throughout the period of their incarceration, prisoners will be reviewed in order to establish the most practical and suitable programmes available to them to address factors impacting on their likelihood to re-offend upon release. This assessment process also seeks to ensure that wherever possible, prisoners are accommodated in cells appropriate to their needs. Some prisoners are more suited to multi-occupancy cells, while others are more suited to single-cell occupancy.
I wish to add that the Director General of the Irish Prison Service accepted the recommendations contained in the Report of the Commission of Investigation into the Death of Gary Douche (commonly referred to as the McMorrow Report). A "Cell Sharing Risk Assessment Policy" has been drafted and is currently being piloted in Midlands Prison. It is intended to roll-out the Assessment tool throughout the Estate in order to improve the safety of prisoners and staff alike.