Minister publishes 2011 Annual Report

The Minister for Justice, Equality and Defence, Mr. Alan Shatter, T.D. today, 7 August published the Irish Prison Service Annual Report for the year 2011.

Speaking on the publication Minister Shatter said, “It is clear from the 2011 Annual Report that the greatest challenge facing the Irish Prison Service continues to be the increasing number of prisoners being committed to custody. However, the increase for 2011 was less than in previous years with a 0.8% increase over the 2010 figures compared with increases of 11.4 and 13.8 percent in the previous 2 years, perhaps signalling a levelling off in numbers.”

The Report shows that there were 17,318 committals to prison in 2011 which is an increase of 0.8% on the 2010 total of 17,179.

Overall, 13,952 persons were sent to prison in 2011 compared to 13,758 in 2010, which represents an increase of 1.4%. Of those 86.4% were male and 13.6% were female.

Committals during 2011

  • There was an increase of 503 or 4% in the numbers committed to prison under sentence in 2011 (12,990) over 2010 (12,487).
  • The number of prisoners committed serving sentences in the 3 to 5 years category increased by 12.4% on the 2010 figure (420 in 2010 to 472 in 2011).
  • Committals under sentence of less than 3 months increased by almost 10% on the 2010 figure, i.e., from 7,356 to 8,070.

Persons detained under Immigration Laws
In 2011 there were 423 committals in respect of immigration issues involving 395 detainees. This represents a decrease of 13.9% on the 459 persons detained in 2010 and follows a decrease of 31.4% in this category the previous year. The average daily number of persons in custody under this category was 10.

Snapshot of prison population on 30th November 2011

  • The total for the number of persons in custody has remained relatively unchanged with the 2011 figure (4,313) representing a decrease of just 2.9% on the comparable 2010 figure (4,440).
  • Some 291 prisoners (7.9%) were serving life sentences and another 290 (also 7.8%) were serving determinate sentences of 10 years or more.
  • 43 offenders were serving sentences of less than 3 months representing 1.2% of the total number of prisoners in custody. There were 20 persons in prison for non-payment of fines which represents 0.5% of the total number of prisoners in custody.
  • Irish nationals accounted for 89.6% of the total number of persons in custody under sentence on the 30 November 2011.

Cost per Available, Staffed Prison Space
The average cost of an available, staffed prison space during the calendar year 2011 was €65,359 (€70,513 in 2010), a decrease on the 2010 cost of €5,154 or 7.3%. This decrease in average cost results from reduced expenditure and an increase in the provision of bed capacity.

Minister Shatter said, “As Minister for Justice and Equality I am committed to ensuring that the range of options available to the judiciary is broad and includes a modern and upgraded prison system. The problem of prison overcrowding remains a challenging issue which unfortunately cannot be resolved overnight. However progress is being made. There are 300 new prison places in the Midlands Prison which will be operational by the end of the year. I am continuing to pursue alternatives to custody where they are appropriate and to address the issue of the lack of in cell sanitation in prisons.”

The Minister added “I have received approval for the development of a new prison in Cork on the site of the current car park and adjacent green-field site. It is designed to replace the existing outdated prison with modern cellular accommodation containing in-cell sanitation and showering facilities supported by a full range of ancillary services. The construction of a new, modern 250 space prison would eliminate the practice of prisoners having to slop out. A final decision will be made when detailed plans, design and costs have been finalised. It is hoped that construction of the new prison will commence in 2013 and be commissioned in late 2015.

I have also requested the Irish Prison Service to proceed with the preparation of plans for a major redevelopment at Limerick prison to replace the early 19th century “A” and “B” Wings. This will provide a new modern 100 cell accommodation block with in cell sanitation, a dedicated committal unit and a high support unit, ancillary support services, additional recreational areas and a new kitchen facility with work training facilities.

The report is available here