Dáil Éireann - Volume 459 - 14 December, 1995

Written Answers. - Firearms Offences.

[1822] 32. Mr. Connolly asked the Minister for Justice if she will give details of the most recent information regarding the length of sentences that have been imposed in respect of firearms offences; and if she will make a statement on the matter. [18949/95]

Minister for Justice (Mrs. Owen): Court statistics do not record the sentences imposed by judges of the various courts in respect of any particular category of offences.

At present court statistics are maintained primarily for the purpose of measuring activity levels and thereby measuring resource requirements for the courts. I acknowledge, as my Department does and I am sure Deputies generally do, a more sophisticated and informative statistical system for courts and indeed for the criminal justice system as a whole and I consider that the best way of achieving such a system is through the use of information technology. In this regard my Department is planning major expansion in the use of Information Technology in court offices which will allow for the recording and retrieval of much more detailed statistics in the future. In planning the expanded use of IT for the courts area close attention is being paid to the need for integrating statistics between the courts, prisons and the Garda Síochána.

It will take time, expertise and commitment to get us to the stage where we have an adequate set of criminal justice statistics coming on stream each year. I am committed however to securing progress in this matter in any way I can. In this regard I recently established a Working Group on a Courts Commission with terms of reference which specifically asked it to review the use of information technology in the courts and I look forward to receiving their recommendations on this matter.