The Irish Prison Service (IPS) has published the January and April Censuses of Restricted Regime Prisoners and the January and April Censuses of Cell Occupancy and In-cell Sanitation. Census reports should be published on at least a quarterly basis by the IPS; IPRT believes that a three-month delay in the publication of January census data is unsatisfactory.
The delay in the publication of the January census, as highlighted in the census report itself, was due to an administrative error in the collection of data in Mountjoy Prison. The report states: “Out of cell time was incomplete for the sixty prisoners recorded on 22 hours in cell. As the out of cell time was not recorded, the Governor was not in a position to definitively say that the prisoners received more than two hours out of cell for this period.”
IPRT stresses that effective protocols should be in place to prevent errors in data collection. The timely and accurate publication of this type of data is essential for the effective monitoring of conditions in the Irish prison system. The opportunity to address and respond to any issues arising from the data is undermined when it is not published in a timely manner.
Further to this, the IPS made a commitment to publish quarterly data on the lengths of time people are held on remand, at Ireland’s 2nd periodic hearing under the UN Convention against Torture in July 2017 - yet nine months on this data has not been published.
The importance of the collection and dissemination of robust data in the criminal justice system was also highlighted in the Third Report of the SRPP Implementation Oversight Group, who recommended “an increased focus on effective data management” and the development of “a shared agreement outlining how data is to be collected, managed and published by all criminal justice agencies”.
IPRT looks forward to the timely publication of the July censuses.
A short summary of the January and April Censuses of Restricted Regime Prisoners is available here.