Tuesday, 5 December 2017
Department of Justice and Equality
I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that a report compiled by them has identified 10 criminal groupings within the prison population excluding the subversive groupings in Portlaoise Prison.
Membership or allegiance of these criminal groups fluctuates on a continuous basis with some persons breaking links and others becoming affiliated on a daily basis. It is also the case that prisoners will not always declare their affiliation to certain groupings and it is therefore not possible to provide definitive numbers in relation to the number of known members of criminal groupings currently in custody, on parole or on bail.
The emergence in recent years of criminal groupings has had significant implications for the management of Irish Prisons. Rivalries and feuds which develop on the outside continue inside the prison. Prison management must ensure that the various factions are kept apart, and as far as possible, that members of criminal groups do not have influence over other inmates in the prisons or criminal activities outside.
The Irish Prison Service is committed to preventing identified members of criminal groups from conducting criminal activities while in custody and also to prevent them exerting inappropriate influence over other persons. For example, the security initiatives undertaken by the Operational Support Group have made it more difficult for prisoners to engage in illegal activities while in prison. These initiatives include the installation of airport style security including scanners and x-ray machines. The core function of this group includes the gathering and collating of intelligence information on members of criminal groups in custody, carrying out intelligence led searches and preventing the flow of contraband, including mobile phones, into the prisons.
In addition, there is regular contact between the Irish Prison Service and An Garda Síochána to discuss security issues including the operation of criminal groupings.