313. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to increase custody capacity in line with the introduction of the Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Bill 2015, and the possible increase in demand for custody space in prisons; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [41335/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I wish to advise the Deputy that there are no plans to increase custody capacity in response to the introduction of the Criminal Justice (Burglary of Dwellings) Bill. As the Deputy is aware the Irish Prison Service collates and publishes the prisoner population breakdown, including those on temporary release, on a daily basis and this information is available on the Irish Prison Service website (www.irishprisons.ie).
On 20 November 2015 there were 3,735 prisoners in custody which is 94% of the Inspector's recommended total capacity of 3,982. Significant decreases in prison numbers have taken place. The overall daily average number in custody for 2014 was 3,915 compared to 4,390 in 2011, a decrease of 10.8%. The Deputy may wish to note that the number in custody reached a peak of 4,621 on 23 February 2011, on the 20 November 2015, there were 886 less prisoners in custody, a decrease of 19%.
The Fines (Payment and Recovery) Act 2014 provides that the Court imposing a fine shall take into account a person's financial circumstances. It further provides, inter alia, that where a person fails to pay a fine by the due date, the Court may make an attachment order to earnings as a means of recovering the unpaid fine. As a result of this legislation, it is expected that we will see a reduction in the number of committals to prisons on short sentences.