New figures by the Department of Justice show the average daily cost of electronically monitoring a prisoner is €64.72 in 2017 — up from €15.51 in 2013 and €47.13 last year.
The Criminal Justice Act 2006 allows for the introduction of the electronic monitoring of prisoners, although it has only been used on a limited basis to date.
However, electronic tagging still compares favourably with the cost of keeping prisoners in jail as the latest figures show it cost, on average, just over €190 per day per prisoner last year which equates to €69,421 per annum. There are around 4,060 prisoners in custody in the country’s 13 prisons.
The figures which were supplied in response to parliamentary questions submitted by Fianna Fáil justice spokesman, Jim O’Callaghan, show 113 prisoners have been monitored since the electronic tags were first used in 2013. The Irish Prison Service said 42 prisoners have been monitored so far this year which is the highest annual total to date. This includes seven prisoners who are fitted with the devices.
A working group on electronic monitoring established by the Department of Justice last year is due to submit its final report in the near future. The group also includes representatives of the Irish Prison Service, the Probation Service, the Courts Service, the gardaí and the DPP.
It was revealed last month that a pilot programme for the electronic tagging of prisoners in 2010 was beset by equipment malfunctioning. The Irish Prison Service awarded a contract for the electronic monitoring of prisoners in 2014 following a competitive tender.
Justice Minister Charlie Flanagan said the service was used to monitor some prisoners who had been granted temporary release including those involved in the Community Return/Support Scheme.
“The system is also used to monitor some hospital in- patients who have been granted temporary release from prison. It thus allows for a significant reduction in staffing costs for hospital escorts,” Mr Flanagan said.
The contract allows for a maximum of 50 electronic tags to be fitted to prisoners and requires the prison service to pay for a minimum usage of 20 devices.
Mr Flanagan said he was unable to provide estimates for the cost of electronically tagging individuals on bail. He said it would be “inappropriate and unhelpful” to speculate on the costs when there may be a requirement for a procurement process.