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Question

582. Deputy Réada Cronin asked the Minister for Justice the stated capacity of prisons and the current numbers incarcerated in same in tabular form in each of the past ten years; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [37841/21]

Answer

Minister of State at the Department of Justice (Deputy Hildegarde Naughton): I wish to advise the Deputy that the number of persons in custody peaked in February 2011 at 4,621, before falling back to 3,525 in January 2015. However, since 2016, the number of persons in custody had been steadily increasing until March 2020 when this trend was ended with the onset of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Since March 2020, as part of its response to the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic in custodial setting, the Prison Service has been implementing measures to reduce the prison population. This has been done in order to ensure good infection control and to ensure that cells are available for the accommodation of any prisoner who may be required to isolate in accordance with guidance from the public health authorities.
In 2019, in response to increasing prisoner numbers, the Director General introduced a Prison Population Management Plan aimed at identifying the short, medium and long term actions required to address the rising prisoner numbers. As a result, approximately 135 additional beds were introduced. The current bed capacity of the prison estate is 4,375. 
A further 96 prisoner spaces will come on stream in due course (subject to easing of restrictions regarding the Covid-19 pandemic) with the reopening of the Training Unit at Mountjoy as an older persons facility. 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. It is however, subject to delays due to Covid-19 pandemic.
I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that the number in custody on 7 July, 2021 was 3,868 representing a 88% occupancy rate.
The attached table 1 sets out the occupancy statistics for the past 10 years.
Statistics from 2009 onwards are available on the Irish Prison Service's website at www.irishprisons.ie/information-centre/statistics-information/
Table 1

Year Total Change from previous year % Persons Change from previous year % Male Female
2019 8,939 10.8% 7,170 10.5% 6,276 894
2018 8,071 -13.1% 6,490 -13.3% 5,724 766
2017 9,287 -38.5% 7,484 -40.5% 6,403 1,081
2016 15,099 -12.2% 12,579 -11.3% 10,033 2,546
2015 17,206 6.5% 14,182 5.8% 11,264 2,918
2014 16,155 2.7% 13,408 2.7% 10,723 2,685
2013 15,735 -7.6% 13,055 -5.8% 10,729 2,326
2012 17,026 -1.7% 13,860 -0.7% 11,709 2,151
2011 17,318 0.8% 13,952 1.4% 12,050 1,902
2010 17,179 11.4% 13,758 11.5% 12,057 1,701


<a href=" https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/debates/questions/supportingDocumentation/2021-07-14_pq582no213072021_en.docx ">Irish prisons statistics</a>
<a href=" https://data.oireachtas.ie/ie/oireachtas/debates/questions/supportingDocumentation/2021-07-14_pq58213072021_en.xlsx ">stated capacity of prisons</a> Question No. 583 answered with Question No. 565. Question No. 584 answered with Question No. 565.