511. Deputy Clare Daly asked the Minister for Justice and Equality her views on the impact of cutbacks in prison officer numbers, which lead, on a regular basis, to prisoners not being released from their cells at the appropriate time in the morning and going into lock-up earlier in the evenings, resulting in an increase in time spent on lock-up; the action she will take on the matter; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [20459/15]
Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I am advised by the Irish Prison Service that there is no practice in place of prisoners not being released from their cells at the appropriate time in the morning, and going into lock-up earlier in the evenings, There are occasions when, for various reasons, delays in moving prisoners to schools, workshops etc, do occur, but these are not as a result of staff cutbacks.
While there has been a reduction in the staffing levels in the IPS, this has been as a result of controlled reductions as set out in the Croke Park Agreement and the Haddington Road Agreement and is in line with Government policy to reduce Public Service numbers. However, it should be noted that these reductions have not changed the standard prison day or the periods of unlock. It should also be pointed out that the number of people in custody as decreased significantly over the period April 2013 to April 2015, from 4,283 to 3,747 respectively, representing a decrease of 12.5%. Furthermore, the Ratio of Prison Staff to Prisoners over the same period has increased from 0.67 to 0.76.
|Date||Staff Number||Prison Number||Ratio|
|End April 2015||2865||3747||.76|
|End April 2013||2900||4283||.67|
The Irish Prison Service endeavours to deliver a broad and flexible curriculum in both education and work and training services, in line with the Irish Prison Service Three Year Strategic Plan. These include the provision of a wide range of rehabilitative programmes such as education, vocational training, healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, counselling, welfare and spiritual services and these programmes are available in all prisons and all prisoners are eligible to use the services.
This table shows the most recent figures available (March 2015) of the average prisoner participation in education and vocational training. It should be noted that a prisoner may participate in more than one activity.
|Institution||Education - Average Prisoner Participation in March 2015||Vocational Training - Average Prisoner Participation in March 2015||Average number in custody on March 2015|
|St Patrick's Institution||99||24||10|
|Total Average Participation||1,684||1,050||3,773|