Written answers

Thursday, 2 April 2015

Department of Justice and Equality

Prisoner Data

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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140. To ask the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of prisoners deemed to have absconded while in prison or on bail in each of the past five years and in 2015 to date; the number recaptured or still at large; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [13814/15]

Photo of Frances FitzgeraldFrances Fitzgerald (Minister, Department of Justice and Equality; Dublin Mid West, Fine Gael)
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I can inform the Deputy that Irish Prison Service records indicate that for the period 1 January 2010 to 31 March 2015, 293 persons absconded from custody, of these 15 remain unlawfully at large. The table sets out the number of prisoners deemed to have absconded in this period and who remain at large, as of 31 March 2015:

YearNumber of abscondersNumber Still at large
20101127
2011861
2012632
2013180
2014112
201533

Gardaí are informed when prisoners abscond and they have the power to detain, arrest, and return such persons to prison. Experience has shown that the vast majority of offenders who abscond return voluntarily or are returned to custody to complete their sentences within a short time frame.

I also wish to advise the Deputy that in October 2012, the Director General of the Irish Prison Service established a project team to examine how the Irish Prison Service might reduce the number of prisoners who are unlawfully at large from custody. The project team has worked closely with An Garda Síochána and the Department of Social Protection and its work has led to the re-committal of a number of prisoners who had absconded from custody. This project is ongoing.

Regarding the number of persons recorded as having absconded while on bail, I have requested the Courts Service to supply information on the number of bench warrants issued where a person on bail fails to attend court. I will contact the Deputy again when the information is to hand.

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