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26/09/2021

Revealed: Cost of keeping a prisoner in Irish jails amounts to €80,000 with rise due to 'extraordinary once-off' reasons

Revealed: Cost of keeping a prisoner in Irish jails amounts to €80,000 with rise due to 'extraordinary once-off' reasons

Portlaoise Prison is Ireland's high security jail

Just over €270 million was spent staffing prisons in Portlaoise and other parts of Ireland in 2020 with with the cost per inmate rising by nearly 7% to more than €80,000 due to 'extraordinary' factors, according to the Irish Prison Service annual report.

The report says the annual budget last year was €408.09 m of which salaries, wages and allowances accounted for €270.60 million or 66.3% of the gross budget.

There was capital budget of €47.52 m and a budget for goods/services of €89.97 m.

These budget figures include an increased allocation of €15.66 under the Government Stimulus package.

The report says that the capital budget was used to pay for projects such as Limerick Prison as well as new ICT equipment and vehicle purchases. 

While the average number in custody peaked at 4,108 in February 2020, it declined by 10.3% (-424) during the pandemic. The Irish Prison Service says it operated within the voted funds in 2020 but the cost per prisoner rose.

The average annual cost of an available, staffed prison space during the calendar year 2020 was €80,445, a 6.7% increase on the 2019 cost of €75,349. This figure includes all elements of net expenditure incurred within the year (such as salaries, utilities/maintenance, ICT, prison services, etc.) excluding capital expenditure on buildings and vehicle purchases.

The report claims that the increase on the 2019 figures is due to a number of "extraordinary, once off factors" leading to additional significant costs during 2020.

The says these costs, totalling €16.7 m, have had a once off impact on the calculations, and were in respect of an additional pay period for prison officers due to the timing of payroll payment 2020 runs, COVID pandemic related costs and once off approved Stimulus costs.

“If these extraordinary, once off expenditure items were to be removed from the calculations above, the cost per available, staffed prison space for 2020 would reduce from €80,445, as above, to €76,632, an increase of €1,283 on the 2019 figure,” said the report.

The 2020 report says energy spend was €5.8 million in 2020 representing a 6% increase on 2019 spend.

The report adds expenditure of approximately €7 million was incurred in 2020 as a result of the pandemic such as: Staff costs, medical PPE, virus detection measures, deep cleaning & infection control, industrial cleaning, bedding, laundry and catering contingencies, ICT for improved prisoner services and remote working for staff.

At the end of 2020, there were, 3,455.38 (fulltime equivalent) staff in the Irish Prison Service.

The IPS says more details are available on www.irishprisons.ie.

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