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Home > Written answers - Prisoner rehabilitation programmes [54734/12].

[Oireachtas] Written answers - Prisoner rehabilitation programmes [54734/12]. (05 Dec 2012)

67. Deputy Maureen O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of teachers, scheduled classes, work training programmes that have been curtailed and or cancelled in each prison and the comparable numbers for six and 12 months ago; the impact of the reduction in prison officers and prison office hours on the availability of services for prisoners including education, psychology, work training, health care and drug addiction service; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [54734/12] 

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter):

The Deputy will be aware that the Irish Prison Service, in common with the Public Service in general, has been affected by the moratorium on recruitment. In addition, the savings required of the Irish Prison Service under the Public Service Agreement 2010 – 2014 requires a reduction in staff numbers. The reality is that governors have to run their prisons with fewer staff and therefore there have been occasions where governors have had to prioritise tasks within the prisons. Where it is necessary to reassign certain staff members to frontline areas for security and operational reasons this is done on a rotational basis to ensure minimum disruption to other services. The detailed statistics, in relation to closures and curtailments, requested by the Deputy are not readily available and would require a manual examination of records in 14 prisons. This would involve an inordinate amount of staff time and effort that could not be justified where there are other significant demands on resources.


The reduction in staff numbers is being brought about through a joint staff/management in-depth review of all tasks in the Irish Prison Service, that will examine all aspects of prison work, including the provision of services to prisoners. Current staffing levels are some 300 below authorised numbers. To ensure that this reduction in staff numbers does not lead to a reduction in levels of service delivery, the joint task review process is creating new staffing configurations for all prisons. These new configurations take account of the reduced staff numbers and set out new work processes, new business processes and new policies with a view to maintaining and, in many cases, increasing services delivered to prisoners. In particular, the staff configuration is being rebalanced in favour of work training activities to support the introduction of the Incentivised Regimes programme and the continued application of an Integrated Sentence Management approach. Governors are aware of the importance of prisoners having access to a range of appropriate programmes and every effort is made to minimise the impact of any curtailment on prisoner programmes.


The Deputy will also be aware that I launched the Irish Prison Service Three Year Strategic Plan 2012 - 2015 in April of this year. The development of prisoner programmes forms a central part of this Strategy. There is a clear commitment in the Strategy to enhance sentence planning including Integrated Sentence Management and the delivery of prison based rehabilitative programmes such as education, work training and resettlement programmes. The Strategy Statement is available on the Irish Prison Service's website 

Written Answers- Prisoner rehabilitation programmes
Dáil Éireann Debate
Wednesday, 5 December 2012

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