233. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Justice and Equality the number of persons deemed to have absconded and who still remain free over the past ten years; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [12385/19]


Minister for Justice and Equality (Deputy Charles Flanagan): I am advised by my officials in the Irish Prison Service that Irish Prison records indicate that over the past 10 years 298 persons are deemed to have absconded, and that 15 remain unlawfully at large.  Annual figures provided in the following table show a significant reduction in the number of absconders, particularly since 2012 when the Director General of the Irish Prison Service established a project team to examine this issue, in conjunction with An Garda Síochána and the Department of Employment Affairs and Social Protection.

Year  Number of Absconders  Number Still at large 
 2018 6 0
 2017 4 1
 2016 9 0
 2015 15 2
 2014 11
 2013 16
 2012 58
 2011 76
 2010  103

An Garda Síochána are informed when prisoners abscond and they have the power to detain, arrest, and return such persons to prison. Experience has shown that the vast majority of offenders who abscond return voluntarily or are returned to custody to complete their sentences within a short time frame.