Overcrowding in jails will cause increased tensions and spill over into violence, Department of Justice said in request for higher budget

The Department of Justice warned that prison overcrowding was going to spill over into violence in a plea for additional funding from the Department of Public Expenditure.

A submission said the Irish Prison Service was currently experiencing “record high risk overcrowding” as prisoner numbers shot up following the COVID-19 pandemic.

It said coping with the rise in numbers would be extremely challenging and was likely to lead to “increased tensions” that would inevitably lead to a risk of physical assaults and increased dangers for both staff and prisoners.

In their pre-budget submission, the department said they needed at least €48 million in extra funding for prisons as they warned that overcrowding was only likely to get worse.

At the time, there were over 4,700 people in the prison system; however, since the submission was sent, that has risen even further and, on some days this year, has almost approached 5,000.

The submission added: “In addition to the acute risks this brings to staff and prisoners alike, overcrowding also severely curtails rehabilitation services, including access to schools and workshops.”

These records were only provided to Right to Know following an appeal to the Information Commissioner.