Wednesday, 17 November 2010
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Question 145: To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if any prosecution has been taken for dangerous driving causing death where the collision may be due to distraction caused by using a mobile phone to talk or text while driving; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43214/10]
Question 146: To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform if the telephone records of drivers involved in serious collisions are routinely checked by Garda investigators; if the Garda Síochána has a legal right to seek such information from telephone service providers if the gardaí are relying on the good will of telephone service providers to release such information to them; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43215/10]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 145 and 146 together.
I am informed by the Garda authorities that if an investigation showed that a mobile phone was being used at the time of a road traffic collision, this would form part of the proof and would be contained in the investigation file submitted to the law officers for decision.
In the context of investigating such collisions, An Garda Síochána would be entitled to seek out and preserve evidence of any use of a mobile phone. The legislative power to do so is provided by the Criminal Justice (Terrorist Offences) Act 2005. However, to do so there would need to exist a suspicion that the use of a mobile phone was a contributing factor to the traffic collision being investigated.
Question 147: To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform in the context of the 1,387 mobile telephone seizures in prisons during the first nine months of this year, the number of prosecutions initiated against prisoners as a consequence of the finding and seizure of mobile telephones; the number of prosecutions initiated in 2008 and 2009 following the seizure of mobile telephones in prison; the number of convictions obtained and the number of such prosecutions awaiting determination; and if he is concerned that convicted offenders are using mobile telephones to orchestrate criminal activities by associates. [42919/10]
Question 148: To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of prosecutions that have been initiated against prisoners in the period the 1 January 2010 to the 30 September 2010 as a consequence of the seizure of drugs in prison; the number of such prosecutions initiated in each of the past five years; and the number of convictions obtained in each of the aforesaid periods. [42920/10]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 147 and 148 together.
The Garda Síochána Act 2005 makes provision for the compilation and publication of crime statistics by the Central Statistics Office, as the national statistical agency, and the CSO has established a dedicated unit for this purpose.
I have requested the CSO to provide statistics directly to the Deputy.
The Irish Prison Service has introduced a range of measures in all closed prisons to prevent the flow of and assist in the capture of contraband such as mobile phones, so as to ensure that they are not used for such illegal purposes as directing criminal activities.
The number of seizures, both at entry and within the prison, are directly correlated to the new security procedures in place. These include:
the introduction of enhanced security screening for all persons (visitors and staff) entering our prisons;
the establishment of a drug detection dog service within the Irish Prison Service involving approximately 30 handling teams;
the establishment of Operational Support Units dedicated to developing expertise in searching and gathering intelligence on illicit material being hidden inside our prisons. They will be available in addition to the normal prison staff and will be target specific security problem areas;
the introduction of Body Orifice Security Scanner (BOSS) chairs for the searching of prisoners on entering/leaving the prison;
the erection of netting over exercise yards in closed prisons to counteract phones being thrown over perimeter walls.
Other preventative measures include cell and area searches for contraband such as mobile phones which take place in all prisons on a daily basis. These involve random, targeted and intelligence led searches and have been particularly effective. Indications are that the availability of mobile phones has decreased across the prison system.