Thursday, 23 May 2013
Department of Justice and Equality
Probation and Welfare Service
153. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality if the joint Irish Prison Service and Probation Service proposal on Social Impact Investment has been completed; the details of the proposal; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [24883/13]
As the Deputy is aware, the Government Programme for National Recovery 2011-2016 provides that the Government will establish a new model of financing social interventions, called Social Impact Investment, that focus on outcomes for particular target groups and attract private capital to support social provision. The Programme gives a commitment under the Justice and Law Reform heading to examine outcome-based contracts with community organisations to help reduce offending among young people. As part of its 2012-14 strategic plan, in conjunction with the Department of Justice and Equality and the Probation Service, the Irish Prison Service undertook to examine the feasibility of a Social Impact Investment Project. The objective of the project is to provide a programme of support to targeted short sentence prisoners, commencing in prison but particularly on their release, to reduce re-offending and enable reintegration in their communities. It is also an objective of the project to offer an opportunity to engage effectively with services that could support them in leading a more productive lifestyle on their release.
Accordingly, this project seeks to provide the services likely to have an impact on reoffending to the cohort of short-term sentenced prisoners who do not normally have the benefit of targeted, wrap around services. An interdepartmental steering group was established by the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform in September 2012. The Irish Prison Service and the Probation Service are represented on the Steering Group. Having carried out an evaluation of the proposal, at present, the joint Irish Prison Service and Probation Service proposal may not be feasible due to the fact that commensurate savings cannot be realised within either services vote to offset the cost of repaying the investment. As an alternative, both services have recently introduced a number of initiatives which focus on working with short-term sentenced prisoners, helping with issues such as housing, medical care, substance abuse and training needs. The aim is to increase support to prisoners prior to their release from prison, upon their release and then for a period after their release in order to help break the cycle of reoffending.