Department of Justice appoints new Prisoner Ombudsman

Date published: 01 February 2019

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Peter May, Permanent Secretary of the Department of Justice, has today announced the appointment of the Rev Dr Lesley Carroll as the new Prisoner Ombudsman for Northern Ireland.

Lesley Carroll Prisoner Ombudsman

The appointment was made following an open competition and Dr Carroll will take up office on 1 March 2019 for a term of three years. 

Mr May said: “I would like to congratulate Lesley on her appointment. The role of the Prisoner Ombudsman is a challenging and vital one in the criminal justice system. I am confident Lesley will bring her extensive experience and skills to the role. I wish her every success for her term of office.”

Mr May added: “I wish to place on record my sincere thanks to Brendan McGuigan for covering the responsibilities of the Prisoner Ombudsman since the retirement of the previous Ombudsman in August 2017. With his support, the important work of the Prisoner Ombudsman’s Office continued until an appointment could be made.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Prisoner Ombudsman plays a key role in the criminal justice system by investigating and reporting on deaths in custody and investigating complaints in prisons and making recommendations as necessary. The Prisoner Ombudsman has the power to investigate all matters within the control of the Northern Ireland Prison Service (NIPS) in circumstances when a prisoner or former prisoner has failed to resolve their complaint via the internal prison complaints process. The Ombudsman is completely independent of NIPS and is not a civil servant.
  2. The appointment is for a period of three years and takes effect from 1 March 2019.  The time commitment for the post is four days per week.  The remuneration for the post is £62,713 per annum (pro-rata).     
  3. The appointment of the Prisoner Ombudsman is made on merit and political activity plays no part in the selection process.
  4. Pen Picture: Rev Dr Lesley Carroll is a Presbyterian Minister who served in congregations in North Belfast as well as being Convener of the General Assembly’s Church and Society Committee for seven years. She is currently Deputy Chief Commissioner of the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and works at Victim Support NI to enable victim experiences of the justice system to be understood and influence change. She was a member of the Roe House assessment team within Maghaberry Prison and a member of the Consultative Group on Dealing with the Past.  Political Activity: None.  Dr Carroll was a member of the Ulster Unionist Party for one year.  She left the party in 2017.
  5. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office 028 9052 6444.  Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 028 9037 8110 and your call will be returned.

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