Thursday, 3 June 2021
Department of Justice and Equality
344. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of known drug dealers currently on bail in respect of one or more offences; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30431/21]
345. To ask the Tánaiste and Minister for Justice and Equality the number of occasions in which bail has been refused to members of known criminal gangs; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [30432/21]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 344 and 345 together.
The Deputy will be aware that the decision to grant bail in a particular case is a matter for the presiding Judge, who is independent in the exercise of his or her judicial functions. There is also a constitutional presumption in favour of the grant of bail as, under Irish Law, a person is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
As outlined in my response to the Deputy in Parliamentary Question 665 of 10 February 2021, the specific information is not maintained in such a way as to provide the response sought by the Deputy.
Ensuring people feel safe in their communities and in their homes is a priority for this Government and my Department and we are striving to provide that safety through engagement with communities, by reducing crime and tackling recidivism and by supporting victims.
In relation to the Deputy's specific question, while it is recognised that there is no quick fix to reducing recidivism, targeted interventions, particularly in the community, will result in better outcomes for the most marginalised offenders. These include increasing access to addiction treatment, employment opportunities and increased use of community funded organisations. A range of objectives and actions have been outlined for progression of this throughout this year as outlined in Goal 3 of the Justice Plan 2021, including the forthcoming publication of a Review on Penal Policy, which will set out actions to be taken going forward in order to reduce the rate of reoffending.
A number of initiatives have been introduced over the past decade to reduce reoffending including Community Return and Community Support Schemes and the Joint Agency Response to Crime (J-ARC).
Community Return and Community Support Schemes were introduced in 2011 and aim to increase support for prisoners prior to their release from prison, upon their release, and then for a period after their release in order to break the cycle of offending.
The J-ARC is a multi-agency response to the supervision and rehabilitation of offenders which commenced in 2014. The programme aims to target prolific offenders who are responsible for large amounts of crime. These offenders are managed through the integration of policy and practice between the J-ARC agencies.
We have some statistical evidence available to suggest that the initiatives introduced to date to reduce prison re-offending have contributed to a decline in recidivism. The Central Statistics Office (CSO) use data from the Prison Service and An Garda Síochána to develop comprehensive prison re-offending indicators. The latest figures for Probation Re-offending Statistics, published by the CSO in November 2020, is a detailed study of recidivism among offenders placed under Probation Service supervision, including those on Community Service Orders. The Report is based on Reoffending statistics for 2014 and 2015 and in particular the 2016 cohort.
Overall almost 69% of offenders did not reoffend within a one year period of being placed under the supervision of the Service. The Report also showed that 71.7% of offenders on Community Service Orders did not reoffend within that period and 84.1% for those under Post Release Supervision Order did not reoffend.
We know that reoffending rates are decreasing over time, with 31.1% of 2016 probationers reoffending within one year, compared to almost 36% of 2008 probationers who reoffended in one year. A similar trend is also observed in the three year study: re-offending by those sentenced to probation supervision in 2014 was 47.2% after a 3 year period, compared to a figure of 54.6% after 3 years for the 2008 cohort. The reoffending rates reflect improvements in Probation Service supervision, and indicates that the Service is continuing to perform well. Reoffending by persons subject to post release supervision is encouragingly low which confirms our belief that supervision and support in the community after release improves positive resettlement and reduces harmful behaviour.
Last year my Department launched the findings from an international evidence review on recidivism and policy responses. This report, which is the third in a series of releases to be commissioned and disseminated by the Research and Data Analytics unit in my Department, was prepared by Prof. Ian O’Donnell from the Institute of Criminology and Criminal Justice, School of Law, UCD. The review constitutes a valuable resource for researchers and acts as a springboard for future empirical research on best practice in this area.