Written answers

Tuesday, 15 June 2010

Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform

Prison Accommodation

8:00 am

Photo of Denis NaughtenDenis Naughten (Roscommon-South Leitrim, Fine Gael)
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Question 314: To ask the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform the bed capacity of each prison and the most recent actual prisoner numbers in each prison; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [25223/10]

Photo of Dermot AhernDermot Ahern (Minister, Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform; Louth, Fianna Fail)
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On 11 June, 2010, there were 4,274 prisoners in custody as compared to a bed capacity of 4,066. This represents an occupancy level of 105%. The following table provides a breakdown of the population of each prison/place of detention on 11 June, 2010.

Prison/Place of DetentionBed CapacityNo. in Custody
Arbour Hill Prison148151
Castlerea Prison351387
Cloverhill Prison431482
Cork Prison272300
Dóchas Centre85129
Limerick Prison (male)290312
Limerick Prison (female)2022
Loughan House150140
Midlands Prison516534
Mountjoy Prison (male)590674
Portlaoise Prison359265
Shelton Abbey10099
St. Patrick's Institution217213
Training Unit107116
Wheatfield Prison430450
Totals4,0664,274

As the Deputy will appreciate, the Irish Prison Service must accept all prisoners committed by the Courts into its custody and does not have the option of refusing committals. It is the case that there has been a consistent increase in the total prisoner population over recent years. This situation is particularly apparent over the past 12 months during which time the total number in custody has increased by 345. This represents a rise of approximately 9% in the numbers in custody.

The Irish Prison Service has been engaged in an extensive programme of investment in prisons infrastructure which has involved both the modernisation of the existing estate and the provision of extra prison spaces. Since 1997 in excess of 1,720 new prison spaces have come on stream in the prison system. These include the new prisons in Castlerea, the Midlands, Cloverhill, the Dóchas Centre and new accommodation in Limerick, Portlaoise and Castlerea prisons and at the open centres in Shelton Abbey and Loughan House.

Current projects will see a further 200 prison spaces provided in the short term by means of a new block in Wheatfield. In addition, we hope to proceed in late 2010 with a new accommodation block in the Portlaoise/Midlands prisons complex which will provide 300 prison spaces in the medium term. Also In the medium term, work is due to commence on converting an administrative building on the Dóchas site into a new accommodation block. This will provide 30 rooms with sufficient area to double up, if required, and is due to be completed by September/October 2010.

The Deputy will also be aware of the Government's commitment to developing a new prison campus at Thornton Hall, County Dublin. The new prison facility will have approximately 1,400 cells on a 130 acre site. The new prison facility will have operational flexibility to accommodate up to 2,200 in a range of security settings.

The development is now proceeding on a phased basis with phase one comprising essential enabling works required for the development including the construction of the dedicated access road, perimeter wall and off-site services. Tenders for the construction of the access road were published in March of this year and tenders for the construction of the perimeter wall will be published in September.

Phase 2 will include the development of the main prison campus. The detailed appraisal is underway in accordance with Department of Finance Capital Expenditure Guidelines and the new business case is at an advanced stage of preparation.

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