Wednesday 13 December 2017

15 prisoners remain at large after prison escapes over past six years

Frances Fitzgerald
Frances Fitzgerald

Gordon Deegan

The Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald has confirmed that 15 prisoners remain at large who have escaped from prison custody over the past six years.

In figures provided by Minister Fitzgerald to Bernard Durkin TD (FG) in a written Dail response, the numbers that have absconded from prison custody over the last year six years totals 293.

However, the problem has eased considerably in recent years.

Minister Fitzgerald confirmed that 11 prisoners last year absconded and this compares to 112 absconding in 2010 and 86 in 2011.

The figures show that 63 absconded in 2012 with the numbers plummeting in 2013 to 18.

The figures for 2015 show that three have absconded to date with all three still at large.

Minister Fitzgerald confirmed that seven remain at large since 2010; one since 2011; two since 2012 and two more who absconded in 2014 remain at large.

In her written Dail response, Minister Fitzgerald said: “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.”

She said 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.

She said: “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.”

Separately in a written Dail response to FF’s Niall Collins Minister Fitzgerald confirmed that the latest figures show that there were 504 prisoners - 11.4% of the prison population - on temporary release across the prison system.

She said: “This included 133 prisoners who were serving less than 3 months solely for the non-payment of a Court ordered fine and 178 prisoners who were on structured temporary release programmes such as the Community Return Programme or Community Support Scheme.”

Fianna Fail Justice spokesman, Niall Collins said yesterday that “it is good to see that the trend is going in the right direction and that the Irish prison service has got to grips with the problem”.

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