Written Answers - Legal Aid Service

Tuesday, 22 November 2011

Dáil Éireann Debate
Vol. 747 No. 3

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  478.  Deputy Michelle Mulherin  Information on Michelle Mulherin  Zoom on Michelle Mulherin   asked the Minister for Justice and Equality  Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter   the amount spent on criminal legal aid to date in 2011; and the number of legal aid certificates granted over that period. [36095/11]

  479.  Deputy Michelle Mulherin  Information on Michelle Mulherin  Zoom on Michelle Mulherin   asked the Minister for Justice and Equality in  Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter   the matter of criminal legal aid, if he will confirm the number of accused persons in the past ten years who have been awarded more than one legal aid certificate; and the cost to the State in respect of such class persons. [36096/11]

  480.  Deputy Michelle Mulherin  Information on Michelle Mulherin  Zoom on Michelle Mulherin   asked the Minister for Justice and Equality  Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter   the number of accused persons in the past six years who have been convicted of an offence and who had been awarded a legal aid certificate in respect of their case distinguishing the number of such convictions arising by way of plea and specifying the number of prison sentences imposed in such cases. [36098/11]

  481.  Deputy Michelle Mulherin  Information on Michelle Mulherin  Zoom on Michelle Mulherin   asked the Minister for Justice and Equality  Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter   the numbers of re-offenders and the rates of re-offending in the past ten years distinguishing between summary and indictable offences and setting out the number of re-offenders who have received legal aid certificates. [36102/11]

Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Alan Shatter): Information on Alan Shatter  Zoom on Alan Shatter  I propose to take Questions Nos. 478 to 481, inclusive, together.

Unfortunately, I am not in a position to advise the Deputy in relation to the number of accused persons in the past 10 years who have been awarded more than one legal aid certificate and the cost to the State in respect of such class of persons as this information is not currently collated in the system. This is also the position in relation to the information sought by the Deputy on the number of accused persons in the past six years who have been convicted of an offence and who have been awarded a legal aid certificate in respect of their case distinguishing the number of such convictions arising by way of plea and specifying the number of prison sentences imposed in such cases.

I can advise the Deputy in relation to re-offending that the Irish Prison Service facilitated a major study of prisoner re-offending by the UCD Institute of Criminology, the findings of which were published in the May edition of the academic journal Criminology & Criminal Justice . The recidivism rate was found by this study to be under 50% after 4 years which is in the mid to lower range of recidivism rates when compared to similar countries internationally. [560] The Irish Prison Service keeps records of periods in custody for every prisoner which allows calculation of re-imprisonment rates by type of offence, including sex offences. However, these do not allow calculation of a comprehensive rate of re-offending that includes non-custodial sentences. I am pleased to say however that the Probation Service is in the process of conducting initial research into re-convictions and much work is being done to collate the relevant data which will add to our knowledge in this area.

Information on the number of re-offenders who have received legal aid certificates is not collated as, at the time of assignment of the legal aid certificate, this information is not made known to the court for legal reasons. As the Deputy will be aware, the interests of justice require that a person accused of a crime before the court is innocent until proven guilty and as such is entitled to apply for legal aid regardless of whether he or she has previous convictions.


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