Tuesday, 1 February 2011
Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform
Question 163: To ask the Minister for Justice and Law Reform the number of persons committed to prison for non-payment of fines and non-payment of debt in 2010; if he will provide comparative figures for the previous three years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4593/11]
The information requested by the Deputy in relation to 2010 is currently being compiled and will be published in the Irish Prison Service Annual Report for 2010. However, I can inform the Deputy that the provisional figure (which is subject to change) for 2010 is 6,681 for fines. The corresponding figure for debt is 5.
I can also advise the Deputy that the number of such persons actually held in custody at any one time is a small fraction of the overall prisoner population. To illustrate this point, 21 prisoners or 0.4% of the prison population on 31 January 2011 fell into this category.
Figures for the previous three years are outlined in the following:
The Deputy may also wish to note that the Fines Act 2010 includes provision for the payment of fines by instalment. Section 15, when commenced, will allow a person on whom a fine has been imposed to make an application to the court to pay a fine in this way. It will be possible to pay a fine over a period of 12 months and exceptionally, over a 2 year period. These provisions will be commenced as soon as necessary enhancements have been made to the Courts Service ICT system.
Section 14 of the Act has however been commenced with effect from 4 January, 2011. This requires the court to take into account the person's financial circumstances before determining the amount of the fine, if any, to be imposed.