Long announces Christmas arrangements in prisons

Date published: 10 December 2020

Justice Minister Naomi Long has announced the re-introduction of in-person visits in prisons in the run up to Christmas.

Picture of Justice Minister Naomi Long

This is one of a number of measures taken by the Northern Ireland Prison Service to support prisoners and their families through the Christmas period.

Naomi Long said: “Christmas will be very different for everyone this year, including those in custody and their families. 

“Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, the normal regime for those who find themselves in our care at this time cannot be delivered as it has been in previous years. The re-introduction of in-person visits, with Covid safety measures, in the weeks leading up to Christmas will be welcome, and will allow prisoners to see family members.” 

The Minister also commented on the decision to pause the Christmas Home Leave Scheme for prisoners this year.

“Each year a small number of prisoners apply for, and are granted Christmas Home Leave, but this year we are pausing the scheme to help protect the entire prison community. Keeping people safe remains the priority for the Prison Service.

“With over 2000 virtual visits due to take place between now and the New Year, the Prison Service is doing everything it can to ensure families remain connected throughout the holiday period. People in custody will also be able to receive Christmas packages from their loved ones, and additional support will be provided to those who remain in the care of the Prison Service.

“This has taken a huge effort by the Prison Service and I want to thank the Director General and everyone who has worked so hard to support the people in their care during the pandemic.”

Notes to editors: 

1. Department of Justice media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office via email to: press.office@justice-ni.gov.uk

2. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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