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Almost 500 prisoners have absconded since 2008

Thirty-three prisoners are currently listed as absconded, Minister for Justice and Equality Alan Shatter said this week.

Image: Paul Sharp/Photocall Ireland

THIRTY THREE INMATES are currently listed as being absconded from Irish prisons.

The figure comes from Minister for Justice and Equality, Deputy Alan Shatter, who said that on 7 March 2012 there were 64 prisoners listed as unlawfully at large having escaped/absconded during that time period.

He was asked by Deputy Bernard J Durkan if he could indicate the number of prisoners who have absconded or escaped in the last number of years.

Minister Shatter said that in 2008, there were 122 absconders. This rose to 133 in 2009, before dropping to 112 in 2010. The drop continued, with the number standing at 86 in 2011.

As of May 2012, the number of absconders is 33 prisoners.

Minister Shatter added:

The term “abscond” refers to a person leaving the confines of an open centre without permission or a person who absconds from the custody of a prison officer while outside the confines of the prison for example, attending court or a hospital appointment. The term “escape” refers to a person who flees from prison custody.

There were no escapes from within the confines of a closed prison during the years mentioned.

The Minister added that the Gardaí are informed when prisoners abscond and “have the power to detain, arrest, and return such persons to prison”.

He concluded:

Experience has shown that the vast majority of offenders who abscond return or are returned to custody to complete their sentences within a short timeframe.

Three male prisoners absconded from Loughan House low-security prison in Cavan on 24 April before being apprehended by Gardaí and PSNI officers. The men were spotted by prisoners leaving over one of the perimeter fences. They were pursued and then gardaí were informed.

Also in April, it emerged that three prisoners serving sentences for homicide offences are currently unlawfully at large after absconding from open jails. One escaped in 2004 while another had been at large since 2010. The third man had escaped from a low security prison in Cavan.

Read: Three prisoners escape from Cavan prison>

Read: Three prisoners serving sentence for homicide offences are ‘unlawfully at large’>

Read: Prisoners on temporary release will ‘pose no risk to public’ insists Shatter>

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