Head of Prisons says Maghaberry will build on progress highlighted in inspection report

Date published: 22 August 2017

Head of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Ronnie Armour, has said Maghaberry Prison will continue to build on progress to ensure all people in custody are given the right support to help them rehabilitate.

His comments follow the publication of a report by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland (CJINI) and HM Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) which found positive work continues to deliver a safe and stable environment for staff and people in custody. Inspectors also highlighted areas where improvements are required.

Ronnie Armour said: “There has been significant progress made at Maghaberry over the past 2 years achieved as a result of a positive determination by the leadership team and staff to deliver on improvements at the facility.” He also welcomed the Chief Inspector’s comments about the drive, innovation and creativity shown by management and staff at Maghaberry, before acknowledging there is more to do.

“This is a timely report by inspectors who acknowledge that the needs of prisoners are complex and that vulnerable prisoners especially present a real challenge. There is also now a wider recognition in judiciary and inspectorate that the criminal justice system is not equipped to deal with people who suffer mental health difficulties. This is not an issue which the Prison Service can resolve alone but we can and will contribute to work as recommended by the inspectors. Alongside our healthcare partners in the South Eastern Trust, all steps will continue to be taken to ensure that those prisoners in Maghaberry who are at risk of self-harm, suicide or otherwise vulnerable are managed and supported effectively.”

Mr Armour also spoke regarding the positive work on-going at the prison highlighted by the inspectors: “Progress has also been made in education and general healthcare at Maghaberry, and inspectors were encouraged by operations to tackle illicit drugs coming into the prison. While there has been progress in many areas, we must build on that to ensure Maghaberry continues to play its part in building a safer Northern Ireland.” 

Notes to editors: 

1. Maghaberry Prison is the largest of three prisons that make up the Northern Ireland Prison Service. Maghaberry is the only category ‘A’ high security prison and operates as the committal prison for all adult male prisoners including remand prisoners, sentenced prisoners including life-sentenced prisoners, indeterminate, extended custody and separated loyalist and republican prisoners as well as fine defaulters.

2. On 20 August 2017, there were 829 prisoners in Maghaberry.

3. 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 07623 974 383 and your call will be returned.

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