Irish Penal Reform Trust

The Detail: Call for independent inquiry after 206 prisoner deaths in 12 years

27th September 2018

An article published today (27.08.2018) by The Detail reveals that the number of prisoners who have died across the island of Ireland since the beginning of 2007 has risen to 206.

The article highlights that despite a commitment in 2016 to develop a public database on deaths in custody in the Republic of Ireland, this has yet to happen.

Legislation to give more powers to coroners to investigate deaths in the Republic of Ireland is currently before the Dáil. The Coroners (Amendment) Bill 2018 requires coroners to hold an inquest into the death of someone who was “at the time of his or her death, or immediately before his or her death, in state custody or detention”. It also requires coroners to notify relatives and other interested parties of the date, time and location of an inquest no later than 14 days before it takes place.

Speaking to The Detail on the need for greater transparency around investigations into deaths in custody, IPRT Executive Director Deirdre Malone stated:

“The duty to effectively investigate is important, both to ascertain how the person came by their death, but also to learn broader lessons about how to minimise the risk of further future death.

“Where they are present at the inquest, the press can act as ‘public watchdog’ placing all relevant facts on the public record and subjecting them to public scrutiny. Sensitive reporting serves both bereaved families and the public where it facilitates and supports the transparency and effectiveness of the investigative process.

“Ensuring that advance inquest listings are made widely available, that hearings are conducted in public, that reporting is not restricted and that recommendations are published would help support that process.”

The Detail has compiled a database which shows the number of prison deaths across the island of Ireland since January 2007.

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