81. Deputy Thomas P. Broughan asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the education and training provided to prisoners during their sentences, by prison; the budget for the provision of such services in each of the years 2012 to 2016 and to date in 2017; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [15842/17]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I wish to advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service provides a wide range of rehabilitative programmes to those in custody that include education, vocational training, healthcare, psychiatric, psychological, counselling, welfare and spiritual services. These programmes can offer purposeful activity to those in custody while serving their sentences and encouraging them to lead law abiding lives on release. These education and training programmes are available in all prisons within the Irish Prison Service and all prisoners are eligible to use the services during their prison sentences.
On committal, all prisoners are interviewed by the Governor and are informed of the services available in the prison. At this point prisoners may be referred to services or they can self refer at a later date. Where Governors consider, on the information available, that a prisoner needs a particular intervention they will initiate a referral.
The development of prisoner programmes forms a central part of the Irish Prison Service Three Year Strategic Plan 2016 - 2018. There is a clear commitment in the Strategy to enhance sentence planning through Integrated Sentence Management and the delivery of prison based rehabilitative programmes.
As well as seeking to draw on best practice in adult and further education in the community, there has been a lot of curriculum development over the years that is specific to prison circumstances, such as courses on addiction, health issues and offending behaviour.
The Department of Education and Skills provides an allocation of 220 whole time teacher equivalents in partnership with the Irish Prison Service through the Education and Training Boards (ETB). The focus is on providing education which is quality assured, student centred and facilitates lifelong learning through helping those in custody to cope with their sentence, achieve personal development and prepare for life after release. A broad and flexible curriculum is provided which ranges from basic literacy classes and peer led tutoring to Open University. There is an increasing focus on QQI (formerly FETAC) accreditation as the modular structure is suitable to the needs of students in prison.
The guiding principles which underpin the prisons' work and training service are to make available work, work-training and other purposeful activities to those in custody. Training activities are chosen to give as much variety as possible and also to give opportunities for those in prison to upskill and to acquire practical accredited skills which will help them secure employment on release. The provision of essential prison services such as catering, industrial cleaning and laundry services also form an important part of work training and skills development in all prisons. This budget covers equipment and supplies for work training areas across all prisons.
The Irish Prison Service has also been expanding the number of accredited courses and opportunities available to prisoners in Work Training in recent years. Enhanced partnership arrangements with accrediting bodies such as City and Guilds and the Guild of Cleaners and Launderers and the centralising of coordination and quality assurance arrangements have enabled us to extend the number of available courses and activities with certification.
The following table outlines the budgets allocated to work training and education for 2012 - 2017. The budgets cover equipment and supplies across all prisons.
|2012||€2 million||€1.27 million|
|2013||€2 million||€1.3 million|
|2014||€2.1 million||€1.1 million|
|2015||€2 million||€1.1 million|
|2016||€1.8 million||€1.1 million|
|2017||€1.8 million||€1.065 million|