137. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the details of community sanction schemes in place; her plans to ensure consistency in their availability, use and operation. [12649/16]
Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): The Probation Service, funded through my Department, is an agency with a national remit with over 35 offices nationwide, whose role is to contribute to public safety through the management of community sanctions and measures. The Probation Service achieve this through the effective assessment and management of offenders. This includes working with a wide range of statutory, community and voluntary organisations to deliver services locally in communities.
An example of community sanctions administered by the Probation Service is Court ordered Probation Supervision.
Other examples would be Community Service and Community Return. The Community Return Programme is a joint Probation and Prison Service initiative whereby carefully selected prisoners are granted reviewable temporary release conditional on them performing unpaid community work. Currently the participants must be serving sentences of between 1 and 8 years and must have served at least half of their sentence. Community Service is a sanction used by the courts, in lieu of a prison sentence, whereby convicted offenders over 16 years of age may be given the opportunity by the court to perform between 40 and 240 hours of unpaid work for the community.