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Irish Prison Service. (2021) Irish Prison Service annual report 2020. Longford: Irish Prison Service.

PDF (Irish Prison Service 2020)

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic was evident in the reduced numbers committed to prison in 2020. In 2019, we reported a sustained increase in the numbers in prison, a trend that continued into the first quarter of 2020. However, from March 2020, as COVID-19 restrictions were implemented in the community, we began to see a reversal in this trend. 

The total number of committals to prison in 2020 was 6,340, a decrease of 29% (-2,599) from 2019. This is largely attributable to a reduction in Court activity throughout 2020. Other public health measures in place from March 2020, including restriction on travel and closure of non-essential retail and hospitality, have led to a reduction in the prevalence of certain crime types (Crimes Against the Person and Public Order Offences), which ultimately impact on committals to prison. 

There was a decrease of 3.7% (-147) in the average number in custody from 2019 to 2020. The average number of females in custody was 148, a 12.9% (-22) decrease on the 2019 average of 170. There was a 3.3% (-125) decrease in the average number of males in custody, from 3,801 in 2019 to 3,676 in 2020. In 2020, the average number in prison on remand was 738, a 4.4% (+31) increase on 2019. 2020 also saw an increase in the average duration of remand. In December 2020, 11.5% of all remand prisoners had been on remand for a duration of one year or more, compared with 6% in December 2019. Furthermore, the 50.5% of remand prisoners had been in custody for three months or less in December 2020, compared with 65.5% in December 2019. 

P.37/38 Table, Total Sentenced during 2020 broken down by Offence Group, includes - GP10 Controlled Drug Offences; GP13 Public Order and Social Code Offences; GP14 Road and Traffic Offences 

P.59 Table, Persons in custody under sentence on 30 November 2020 - Offence group classified by sentence length.

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