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Question

454. Deputy Niall Collins asked the Minister for Justice and Equality 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. [1408/15]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can inform the Deputy that on 13 January , 2015, there were 3,648 prisoners in custody as compared to a bed capacity of 4,126. This represents an occupancy level of 88%. A full breakdown to include, capacity, number in custody and percentage of bed capacity is set out in the following table.

Institution
Bed Capacity
Number in Custody
% of Bed Capacity
Mountjoy Campus
Mountjoy (M)
554
532
96%
Mountjoy (F)
105
99
94%
Training Unit
96
91
95%
St Patrick’s
34
10
29%
West Dublin Campus
Cloverhill
431
350
81%
Wheatfield
550
459
83%
Portlaoise Campus
Midlands
870
782
90%
Portlaoise
291
224
77%
Cork
210
228
109%
Limerick (M)
220
211
96%
Limerick (F)
28
25
89%
Castlerea
340
288
85%
Arbour Hill
142
139
98%
Loughan House
140
107
76%
Shelton Abbey
115
103
90%
Totals
4,126
3,648
88%

As outlined in the Irish Prison Service Three Year Strategic Plan, it is intended to align the 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 15 January (3,648) represented 92% of the Inspector of Prisons recommended total of 3,982.
In relation to Cork Prison, a contract for the construction of a new prison to replace the existing facility was awarded late last year and construction began in January, 2014 with a completion date on the third quarter of 2015.
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 23 February 2011. Today there are 973 less prisoners in custody which represents a decrease of 21%.