316. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality to detail the total prison population; the number of prisoners, in tabular form, broken down by prison; the capacity of each prison within the State; the percentage occupation of each prison; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [8845/15]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy may be aware the Irish Prison Service collates and publishes the prisoner population breakdown on a daily basis and this information is available on the Irish Prison Service website
I can inform the Deputy that on 2nd March, 2015, there were 3,776 prisoners in custody as compared to a bed capacity of 4,126. This represents an occupancy level of 92%. A full breakdown to include, capacity, number in custody and percentage of bed capacity is set out in the table.

Institution Bed Capacity Number in Custody % of Bed Capacity
Mountjoy Campus
Mountjoy (Male) 554 542 98%
Mountjoy (Female) 105 112 107%
Training Unit 96 83 86%
St Patrick’s 34 5 15%
West Dublin Campus
Cloverhill 431 354 82%
Wheatfield 550 471 86%
Portlaoise Campus
Midlands 870 824 95%
Portlaoise 291 226 78%
Cork 210 240 114%
Limerick (Male) 220 215 98%
Limerick (Female) 28 22 79%
Castlerea 340 325 96%
Arbour Hill 142 141 99%
Loughan House 140 117 84%
Shelton Abbey 115 99 86%
Totals 4,126 3,776 92%
As outlined in the Irish Prison Service Three Year Strategic Plan 2012 - 2015, it is intended to align the bed capacity of our prisons with the guidelines laid down by the Inspector of Prisons, in so far as this is compatible with public safety and the integrity of the criminal justice system. This has been completed for 9 out of the 14 prisons in the State. The number in custody on 2nd March (3,776) represented 95% of the Inspector of Prisons recommended total of 3,982.
The Deputy will be aware that the average number of prisoners in custody in Ireland rose from 3,321 during 2007 to 4,318 during 2012, an increase of over 30%. Likewise the total number of committals to prison also rose sharply during the same period, from 11,934 in 2007 to 17,026 in 2012 – an increase of over 43%.
2013 saw the first significant decrease in prison numbers since 2007. There were 15,735 committals to prison in 2013 which was a decrease of 7.6% on the 2012 figure. The overall daily average number of prisoners in custody has also dropped in recent years. The average number in custody for 2014 was 3,916 a reduction of 10.8% on the 2011 average of 4,390.
The Deputy may wish to note that the number in custody reached a peak of 4,621 on 23rd February 2011. Today there are 845 less prisoners in custody which represents a decrease of 18%.