herald

Thursday 14 December 2017

Jail violence crisis as over 750 attacks recorded last year

PRISONERS last year carried out over 750 assaults on prison officers and fellow prisoners across the jail system.

In figures released by the Minister for Justice, Frances Fitzgerald, she revealed that 154 assaults were carried out by prisoners on prison staff with 604 assaults perpetrated by prisoners on other prisoners.

The detailed breakdown of the figures shows that the prison staff working in Mountjoy and St Patrick's Institution are most likely to be the victims of assault.

The figures show that almost one third or 49 of the prison staff assaults last year took place in St Patrick's Institution with 22pc or 34 of the assaults taking place at Mountjoy.

The figures show that 12 of the assaults on staff took place at Cloverhill with an additional 12 taking place at Castlerea while 10 took place at Wheatfield.

No assaults on prison staff occurred at low-security prisons at the Mountjoy training unit, Shelton Abbey and Loughan House.

The most dangerous place for prisoners last year was Mountjoy where 107 prisoner on prisoner assaults took place and this was closely followed by Castlerea where 103 prisoner on prisoner assaults occurred.

In the written Dail response to questions placed by Deputy Clare Daly, Minister Fitzgerald revealed that 88 prisoner on prisoner assaults took place at the Midlands; 77 at Wheatfield; 76 at Cloverhill and 57 at St Patrick's Institution.

The number of prisoner on prisoner assaults that occurred at Limerick totalled 31 with 30 taking place in Cork prison.

In her response, Minister Fitzgerald said: "No level of inter prisoner violence or assaults on staff is acceptable. Every effort is made by prison staff and management to limit the scope of violence.

She said: "The Irish Prison Service has successfully introduced a number of measures across such as, hand-held metal detectors, netting over prison yards, boss chairs and security screening machines to detect and prevent weapons from entering the prison."

Deputy Secretary General at the Irish Prison Officers' Association, Jim Mitchell said that the assaults on prisoners "continues to be a concern. As recently as last night, we had a prisoner in Mountjoy attempt to bite a male prison officer and punch a female prison officer".

hnews@herald.ie

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