Gardaí called to Cork Prison 55 times last year

Gardaí called to Cork Prison 55 times last year
Inside Cork Prison. Picture: Eddie O'Hare

GARDAÍ were called to an average of one incident every week at Cork Prison last year, according to figures from the Department of Justice.

The figures show that gardaí were called to the prison on 55 different occasions last year.

Such call-outs are generally made in connection with assaults and other offences.

According to gardaí, there were several occasions last year and in 2017 when gardaí were called to reports of an assault. However, the vast majority of incidents are not followed up with complaints.

Each assault is reported to gardaí by prison authorities. But when gardaí seek to investigate, the majority of victims in the prison population do not make a formal complaint and the incident cannot be pursued.

The 55 calls last year, was down on the previous year when there were 72 requests for attendance. In 2016, there were just 28 such incidents. So far this year, gardaí have been called just once to the prison.

A total of 156 such incidents have occurred since January 2016.

Nationally, there 392 call-outs to Mountjoy last year, 300 to Wheatfield and 275 to Castlerea. Cork is joint fourth highest along with Cloverhill.

Of the cases pursued by gardaí, offenders can get a prison sentence of up to seven years, and/or a fine. Under Section 19 of the Criminal Justice (Public Order) Act 1994, a judge is allowed to impose a sentence consecutive to the one which the offender was already serving.

A report published last year by the Irish Prison Reform Trust, called Progress in the Penal System, highlighted that the number of assaults nationally fallen.

The report outlined: “The number of assaults by prisoners on other prisoners decreased by 27% to 417 in 2017. Acts of violence by prisoners on staff was up by 1% to 104 incidents.” 

Prisoners are disciplined for assaults and have privileges taken away from them. The types of privileges taken from them will be determined on an individual basis, depending on the gravity of the incident.

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