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902 prisoners abscond over 10 years - 58 are still at large

Four prisoners were recently recaptured – including one who had absconded in 2002.

A TOTAL OF 902 prisoners have absconded from Irish prisons since 2004, and almost 60 are still at large.

That is according to figures released by the Minister for Justice and Equality, Alan Shatter, who was asked by Deputy Bernard J Durkan the total number of prisoners who have absconded or left prison without permission in the past 10 years, the number recaptured, and the number who remain at large.

Minister Shatter released the following figures:

imagePic: Oireachtas

Minister Shatter said that it is not possible to establish the means of return without individually examining the records of each prisoner in each of the years involved.

He noted that prisoners usually return voluntarily, are re-arrested by gardaí or are re-committed by the courts.

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

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

In October 2012, the Director General of the Irish Prison Service established a project team to examine ways of tackling the issue of unlawfully at large prisoners.

The Minister said that the work undertaken by the team, along with the close co-operation of the gardaí and the Department of Social Protection, has recently led to the recapture of four prisoners, one of whom had absconded in 2002.

Read: Human rights training course launched for prison staff>

Read: Seven young offenders released as judge rules kids should get remission too>

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