125. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality to give a clear commitment to a coherent and evidence informed penal policy grounded in crime data analysis which is made public. [12637/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): As the Deputy is aware the Penal Policy Review Group was established in 2012, in line with the recommendations of the Thornton Hall Project Review Group. The terms of reference for the Group included an examination and analysis of the role of penal policy in crime prevention; sentencing policies; alternatives to custody; custodial accommodation and regimes; reintegration and rehabilitation; and any special issues relating to female offenders.
In November 2014, I submitted the Report of the Review Group to the Government. The Report contains 43 recommendations relating, inter alia, to an increased focus on effective data management and to my Department joining with all Government Departments and agencies to facilitate and support research in order to assist in the formulation of penal policy.
Work is underway to progress the implementation of the recommendations of the Review Group. To this end I have established a Penal Policy Implementation Oversight Group. The Group is chaired by Dr. Mary Rogan, Associate Professor, School of Law, Trinity College who was a member of the review group. The Group organised a Workshop on 8 February 2016 of the key actors in order to discuss the recommendations of the Penal Policy Review Group and advance their implementation.
I expect to receive a report from the Implementation Oversight Group shortly setting out the state of implementation. It is also my intention to publish this report.
Finally, publication of Recidivism studies by the Central Statistics Office (CSO), which are available on my Department's website www.justice.ie will allow the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service access to a comprehensive bank of data in relation to the rate of recidivism among ex-prisoners and offenders. Along with the implementation of the recommendations of the Penal Policy Review Group, this will help to inform future policy on the management of offenders and will facilitate the formulation of new strategies aimed at reducing recidivism.