282. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of occasions on which crimes have been committed by prisoners while on early release, day release and compassionate release in each of the past ten years to date; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [6031/18]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am informed by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that they do not collate information in the format requested by the Deputy.
Any offender who breaches his or her conditions, including committing a criminal offence, may be arrested and returned to prison immediately by the Gardaí or may be refused another period of reviewable temporary release. If an individual reoffends on temporary release, the matter of their prosecution is a matter for An Garda Síochána and the Director of Public Prosecutions to consider.
If the person is returned to prison to serve the remaining part of their sentence as a result of breaching their temporary release conditions, this information is kept on file and is taken into consideration by the Irish Prison Service for any future temporary release decisions that are taken in respect of that offender. The Irish Prison Service work closely with An Garda Síochána and the Probation Service in respect of the monitoring, supervision and compliance of those on temporary release.
The legislative basis for making decisions on temporary release is fully set out in the Criminal Justice Act 1960, as amended by the Criminal Justice (Temporary Release of Prisoners) Act 2003. Each application is considered on its individual merits and the safety of the public is paramount when decisions are made. Temporary release is an important vehicle for reintegrating an offender into the community in a planned way.
The Irish Prison Service Three Year Strategic Plan 2016-2018 and the Joint Prison Service/Probation Service Strategic Plan 2015-2017 includes working towards the objective of ensuring that all prisoners released early from custody are placed on appropriate structured programme of temporary release.
The Community Return Scheme is an initiative whereby carefully selected prisoners, serving sentences between 1 year and 8 years, can be granted reviewable temporary release coupled with a requirement to do community service work such as painting, gardening or graffiti removal in a supervised group setting. The type of work involved is intended to assist the community and the scheme is involved with a large number of charitable organisations and local community groups.
In addition to Community Return, a Community Support Scheme was introduced to reduce recidivism rates of short-term prisoners by arranging for additional support structures post release and by providing for a more structured form of temporary release. Question No. 283 answered with Question No. 278.