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Only 4pc of Irish prisoners are women - new report

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Prison (stock photo)

Prison (stock photo)

Prison (stock photo)

Women make up just 4pc of the Irish prison population, with a third serving sentences for theft offences, new figures show.

The Irish Prison Service Annual Report for 2019 shows that out of 3,208 prisoners currently serving sentences, only 129 of those are women.

While 7,765 men and 1,174 were committed to prison in 2019, 39pc are under remand.

A third, or 225 women were committed under a sentence for theft offences and 229 served sentences for offences against the government, justice procedures and organised crime.

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Caron McCaffrey

Caron McCaffrey

Caron McCaffrey

Meanwhile, these offences were the most popular amongst men also, with 853 committed for theft offences and 983 committed under a sentence for offences relating to justice procedures and organised crime.

The vast majority of prison sentences are less than 12 months long, with only nine life sentences last year.

As of November 2019, 27 offenders were serving sentences of less than three months long, representing 0.8pc of the total number of prisoners in custody.

There was a 10.7pc increase in committals compared to the previous year, with 8,939 committals to prison in 2019, an increase of 868 to 2018.

There was also an increase of almost 20pc in the numbers committed to prison under a sentence, with 4,812 committed in 2018 and 5,690 imprisoned in 2019.

However, 861 committals were due to the non-payment of a court ordered fine, an increase of 89pc from 2018, with 77.2pc being males and 22.8pc females failing to pay fines.

Caron McCaffrey, the Director General of Irish Prisons, said that increases in prison population saw increased strain on accommodation and prisoner escorts.

“In 2018, we reported on significant increases over a short period of time. These increases have been sustained in 2019, putting pressure on the system in a number of areas, including prisoner accommodation, the provision of services and the volume of prisoner escorts,” she writes in the report.

She also said that a recent trend has emerged from prisoners on remand, where there is an “increasing seriousness” in the charges they face.

“A further recent feature of remand prisoners is the increasing seriousness of the criminal charges they face. Many of these remand prisoners are required

to be detained for much longer periods than was previously the case for remand prisoners, with increasing numbers of them requiring imprisonment at higher levels of security,” she added.

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