Almost €900,000 spent on 'compassionate' prisoners' phone calls in 2014

Mountjoy jail
Mountjoy jail

The cost of compassionate phone calls for prisoners was almost €900,000 in 2014 and the Irish Prison Service are desperate to reduce the cost.

A report in today's Herald reveals that the taxpayer was left with a bill of almost €900,000 just to cover the cost of compassionate phone calls for prisoners in Irish jails.

Call costs have grown from €706,285 in 2012 to €889,705 in 2014 and the Irish Prison Service (IPS) have been in communication with the governors of the country's prisons in a bid to reduce the bill.

They have put in place a structure where only guards of the rank Chief Officer or above can grant a compassionate phone call and a monthly tally of the total calls made must be kept and reviewed by the governor.

The information, obtained by a Freedom of Information request, also shows that the IPS were concerned about phone calls between prisoners and their solicitors being recorded.

In the wake of a similar system being found in Garda stations a review was ordered and it was discovered that all calls in the country's prisons, bar two open prison and the maximum security block in Portlaoise, had been recorded since July 2010.

The IPS say that none of the conversations recorded were passed on to third parties and all prisoners who had been recorded had been informed of the fact by letter which was hand delivered by the governor in each prison.