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Question

161. Deputy Jonathan O'Brien asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality her plans to impose a statutory obligation on relevant State agencies to co-operate around prisoner release. [12678/16]

Answer

Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Frances Fitzgerald): I can advise the Deputy that the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service have a multi agency approach to offender management and rehabilitation in order to reduce re-offending and improve prisoner outcomes.
A new pre-release planning policy for the Irish Prison Service is at an advanced stage and will represent considerable improvements to current pre-release planning and practices in Irish prisons. This policy will ensure critical areas are highlighted in prisoner throughcare under six key pillars: Housing/Accommodation Needs, Financial Supports, Healthcare, Public Safety and Statutory Requirements, Families and Personal Relationships, Education, Training and Employment.
Furthermore, the Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service have published a number of Joint Strategies. These strategies set out how the two Services will work together with other statutory, community and voluntary sector partners to provide a multi-agency approach to offender management and rehabilitation. While the Prison Service and the Probation Service are two separate entities, the work they do is closely linked and has the same ultimate goal - to reduce re-offending leading to safer communities. Co-operation and working together is integral to achieving this common goal.
In addition, I published the Report of the Penal Policy Review Group in September 2014 and subsequently established a Group to oversee the implementation of the recommendations of the Review 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 Review Group recommends that there must be greater emphasis, if necessary through legislation, on promoting inter-agency cooperation in the management and rehabilitation of offenders. Indeed inter-agency and inter-Departmental working is a key theme emerging from the work of the Implementation Oversight Group. Clearly, the input of other Departments and agencies will be critical to the implementation of the Review Group recommendations. In that context the Implementation Oversight Group organised a Workshop on 8 February 2016 of the key actors in order to discuss the recommendations of the Review Group and advance their implementation. The theme of the workshop was interagency co-operation.
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.
In summary a high degree of co-ordination already exists amongst the relevant State agencies around prisoner release.