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28 Sept 2022

Nearly €270 m pay bill for prisons in Laois and other counties detailed in report that reveals cost of prisoner

prison

The Midlands Prison in Portlaoise is the biggest jail in Ireland

Nearly 70% of money spent on keeping prisoners behind bars at jails in Portlaoise and other parts of Ireland ends up in the pay packets of prison officers and other Irish Prison Service staff.

That's according to the newly published 2021 annual report published by the IPS.

It says the annual budget for the Irish Prison Service for 2021 was €395 million, of which salaries, wages and allowances accounted for €267 million or 68% of the gross budget.

At the end of 2021, there were 3,474.35 (fulltime equivalent) staff in the Irish Prison Service, including civilian grades and headquarters staff.

A total of 133 Recruit Prison Officers and 15 Prison Clerical Officers joined in 2021. A further 256 staff were of which 185
were male and 71 were female.

There were a total of 113 retirements. Of these 83 were classed as normal retirements 18 were compulsory retirements (aged 60) while further 12 staff left for health reasons.

The report also outlines the average annual cost of an available, staffed prison space during the calendar year 2021. It reached €80,335 a 0.1% decrease on the 2020 cost of €80,445.

"This 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," says the annual report.

The report also details money spent to cope with Covid-19 in jails. Expenditure of approximately €6 million was
incurred in 2021 to assist with the circumstances arising from the pandemic says the report. This included: extra staff costs; medical PPE; deep cleaning & infection control; industrial cleaning; bedding, laundry and catering contingencies; ICT for improved prisoner services and remote working for staff.

The report outlines other spending. It says there was a capital budget of €36 million and a budget for goods/services
of €91 million. The IPS says the the capital budget was utilised to fund investment in a number of capital projects
to improve the infrastructure and security of the estate, including a major construction project at Limerick Prison, as well as for the provision of new ICT equipment and fleet assets.

About 1,100 suppliers were engaged during 2021, with many of these being in the small and medium enterprise sector.

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