Legal costs double compensation awarded to prisoners

Compensation to prisoners, public and staff exceeded €4 million last year

Conor Ganly

Reporter:

Conor Ganly

Legal costs double compensation awarded to prisoners

Midlands Prison Portlaoise

The legal cost of compensation cases taken by prisoners who were injured by other prisoners in Portlaoise and other jails was more than double the amount awarded, according to the latest Comptroller and Auditor General audit of prison spending.

Compensation awarded to prisoners was €492,000 in 2017 but the legal costs awarded reached €1 million, arising from 186 cases.

The claims arose out of injuries and actions involving other prisoners.

The total costs of such clams half of the €2.8 million spent in 2016.

A total of 142 cases were brought by staff costing €2.25 million. Legal costs awarded amounted to €369,000.

Civil claims from staff for injuries while on duty and other issues involving staff led to €1.14 million compensation. Legal costs incurred amounted to €369,000 arising from the 104 cases concluded. 

The total for such claims in 2016 was more than €2.1 million.

A total of 38 claims through the Criminal Injuries Compensation Tribunal arising from injuries received by staff resulted in €742,000 worth of compensation. No legal costs were incurred. The cost was €3,000 down on the previous year.

There were 37 compensation claims from the public which cost €395,000 to settle in 2017. Legal costs represented €131,000 of the bill. The bill for 2016 was €140,000.

The total compo bill was €4.14 million. Legal costs totalled €1.5 million. 

At December 2017, the State Claims Agency recorded €2,250 claims as outstanding. Legal costs incurred by the Irish Prison Service in relation to 13 non-compensation cases amounted to €234,702.

The Comptroller and Auditor General said the Irish Prison Service is involved in a number of pending legal proceedings which may generate liabilities depending on the outcome of the litigation. Any actual amount or timing of potential liabilities is uncertain.

A substantial amount of cases are before the courts relating to slopping out mainly at Mountjoy Prison in Dublin.