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Question

309. Deputy Aengus Ó Snodaigh asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the criteria used to determine whether to grant an application from a prisoner to transfer to a different prison; if there are different procedures for different categories of prisoners, different stages of their sentences and different prisons; if agreement on a Ministerial, governor's or head of the Prison Service basis is required; the number of such requests referred to the Minister each year; and the number granted and refused respectively. [9408/18]

Answer

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service (IPS) that prisoner transfers are carried out for a number of reasons but in general they fall into two categories, i.e. those carried out for operational reasons and those effected at the request of a prisoner.
Transfers for operational reasons may be necessary for a variety of reasons including overcrowding, the need to protect a prisoner from other prisoners or to reallocate cell space to another prisoner or group of prisoners. Other common reasons for prisoner transfers include court appearances, to participate in a particular training or educational course or to assist in reintegration. Recommendations are also made to me in relation to the transfer of long term sentenced prisoners by the Parole Board.
When making decisions in relation to the transfer of prisoners for the two categories listed above, a range of factors are taken into consideration including:
- The safety and best interests of the prisoner
- The nature and gravity of the offence
- Length of sentence served to date
- Length of sentence left to serve
- Behaviour in prison
- Prisoner’s medical needs
- Previous criminal record
- The views of local management and services
- The capacity of a receiving prison to accommodate a given prisoner
My statutory powers in relation to decision-making in respect of transfers have been delegated to a number of senior officials in the IPS. The consent of neither prison governors nor the Director General IPS is required.
All decision making staff are aware of the need to take appropriate account of all the criteria to be applied to decision making in a balanced and considered manner.
I am advised by the IPS that statistics are not kept concerning the category of transfer applications, however the figures for all prison transfer applications from 2016 to date are outlined in the table below.
 

2016 table
Prison Total Applications Approved Rejected Deferred
Arbour Hill Prison 144 96 47 1
Castlerea Prison 675 615 59 1
Cloverhill Remand Prison 908 869 33 6
Cork Prison 767 729 35 3
Limerick Prison 859 800 52 7
Loughan House Place Of Detn. 515 273 234 8
Midlands Prison 1,672 1,528 132 12
Mountjoy Prison (Female) 56 55 1 0
Mountjoy Prison (Male) 718 559 149 10
Portlaoise Prison 627 572 48 7
Shelton Abbey Place Of Detn. 586 237 344 5
St. Patricks Institution 16 13 3 0
Training Unit Place Of Detn. 370 223 140 7
Wheatfield Place of Detention 1,869 1,810 52 7
Total  9,782 8,379 1,329 74


 
2017   table
Prison   Total   Applications Approved Rejected Deferred
Arbour   Hill Prison 144 96 47 1
Castlerea   Prison 675 615 59 1
Cloverhill   Remand Prison 908 869 33 6
Cork   Prison 767 729 35 3
Limerick   Prison 859 800 52 7
Loughan   House Place Of Detn. 515 273 234 8
Midlands   Prison 1,672 1,528 132 12
Mountjoy   Prison ( Female) 56 55 1 0
Mountjoy   Prison ( Male ) 718 559 149 10
Portlaoise   Prison 627 572 48 7
St.   Patricks Institution 16 13 3 0
Training   Unit Place Of Detn. 370 223 140 7
Wheatfield   Place of Detention 1,869 1,810 52 7
Total 9,196 8,142 985 69

2018 table (to date)
Establishment Name Total Applications Approved Rejected Deferred
Arbour   Hill Prison 54 34 20 0
Castlerea   Prison 139 132 6 1
Cloverhill   Remand Prison 117 116 1 0
Cork   Prison 150 129 20 1
Limerick   Prison 122 116 6 0
Loughan   House Place Of Detn. 67 44 23 0
Midlands   Prison 354 329 22 3
Mountjoy   Prison ( Female) 16 16 0 0
Mountjoy   Prison ( Male ) 136 119 14 3
Portlaoise   Prison 145 137 8 0
Shelton   Abbey Place Of Detn. 42 29 12 1
Wheatfield   Place of Detention 356 346 8 2
Total 1,698 1,547 140 11