€600k in compensation paid to inmates due to injuries

Minister Charlie Flanagan

Inmates in Irish prisons were awarded €600,000 last year in compensation payments for injuries.

Figures released by Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan show that €594,968 was paid out to prisoners for a range of injuries and exposures to hazards. That was a decrease of 8.2% from 2016.

The figures, which were provided in response to a parliamentary question from Social Democrats co-leader, Catherine Murphy, did not provide any information on the number of claimants, nor on the level of awards made to individual prisoners.

The majority of cases are dealt with by the State Claims Agency, on behalf of the Irish Prison Service.

The biggest type of award last year was for injuries suffered as a result of violence. These totalled €247,500, while €51,736 was paid out to prisoners who had experienced “self-injurious behaviour”.

There was a sharp reduction in compensation paid out for prisoners suffering slips, trips, or falls, down to €36,750, from €160,000 in 2016. 

In contrast, while there were no payouts for prisoners suffering exposure to bacteria or hazardous chemicals in 2016, claims of this nature last year resulted in payouts of €92,000 and €40,000, respectively.

Injuries arising from clinical procedures and medication resulted in awards to prisoners of €15,000.

Unlike in 2016, when €28,500 was awarded, no prisoner last year successfully made a compensation claim for psychological stress from a wrongful arrest or unlawful detention.

Separate figures, also published by the Department of Justice, show there was a slight increase last year in the number of assaults on prisoner officers by inmates, with an average of two staff being attacked each week.

A total of 104 attacks on prison staff were recorded in 2017, up six on the previous year.

Mountjoy was the prison with the most number of attacks — 18 in 2017 — overtaking the Dóchas Centre, the female prison on the Mountjoy campus, where 14 assaults were recorded, and the Midlands Prison in Portlaoise, where there were 13.

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