New figures show that tuckshops across the Irish prison system last year generated revenues of more than €7.3m.
According to figures provided by the Department of Justice, they show that three tuckshops located at Mountjoy, the Midlands and Wheatfield prisons each generated revenues of more than €1m last year.
Figures show that the 13 tuckshops across the prison system enjoyed combined profits of €834,655 in the 12 months to the end of December last year.
According to the figures, released in response to a Freedom of Information request, the most profitable tuckshop in the Irish prison system last year was located at the 680-bed Wheatfield Prison in Dublin, where profits were €195,497 – total revenues at that tuckshop amounted to €1.095m.
The least profitable tuckshop was located at the open low-security Loughan House in Co Cavan where profits of €17,073 were recorded with revenues totalling €119,510.
Wholesale giant BWG recently scooped a multi-million euro contract to supply goods to the tuckshops. The prison service has demanded as part of the contract that items to be sold include: Rimmel fake tan, Pearl Drops Hollywood Smile dental product and Hamlet and Corona cigars.
Tuckshop revenues are funded partly from the weekly gratuity that prisoners receive from the Prison Service, ranging from €6.65 to €15.40, while prisoners can also receive money from relatives.
No money exchanges hands between the prison officers manning the hatch at the tuckshops – with all transactions with prisoners done on account.
Tuckshop privileges are valued by prisoners and can be withdrawn by prison authorities if there is a breach of discipline.
The Irish prison population is currently 4,074 strong and the list of products that BWG is contracted to supply the inmates is exhaustive.
BWG, which operates the Spar and Mace brands in Ireland, supplies the tuckshops with Rimmel false tan – light and dark – along with eyeliner, eyeshadow and mascara produced by the well-known brand.
Prisoners with a sweet tooth are catered for with the rich selection of chocolates and cakes on the list, including boxes of Cadbury's Milk Tray and Chocolate Fudge Cake.
The most popular item on the list amongst the prisoners is 12.5g Amber Leaf tobacco, with the prison service projecting the annual number of that product sold across the tuckshops totals just under 500,000.
The number of bags of cheese and onion Tayto that the prison service expects to be sold over one year totals 281,767 packets; while 66,297 Mars Bars are sold over 12 months.