Long welcomes launch of virtual visits for prisoners

Date published: 10 April 2020

Justice Minister Naomi Long has welcomed a Northern Ireland Prison Service initiative, which will provide virtual visits for prisoners to see and chat with family during the Coronavirus pandemic.

The video-link facilities have been introduced at Maghaberry Prison, Magilligan Prison and Hydebank Wood where visits have been suspended.

Justice Minister Naomi Long said: “We absolutely recognise the importance of family contact for those within our care, and their families. The use of safe and secure video-links in each of our establishments now facilitates family video calling at a time which can be worrying for all of us.”

 A virtual visit, lasting up to 20 minutes, can be booked by a family member using a personal computer, tablet or smart phone, and through a secure video-link prisoners and their families are able to see and speak with each other.

All virtual visits are supervised and any behaviour, language or actions which are inappropriate will see the virtual visit terminated.

Naomi Long added: "The last few weeks have clearly been out of the norm for us all. COVID-19 has made us enter a place of uncertainty, which is never comfortable for anyone. However, at a time of forced distancing, I want to assure the families of those in the care of the Northern Ireland Prison Service that we are all in this together.”

More detail on how to book a virtual visit can be found on the nidirect website at nidirect/visiting a prison 

Notes to editors: 

1. In consultation with the Justice Minister Naomi Long MLA, the Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service announced the decision to suspend all visits to prisons from Monday 23 March 2020.

2. To date, there has been no confirmed cases of COVID-19 in any prison in Northern Ireland.

3. For all media queries, please contact the DOJ Press Office on 028 9052 6444. Out of office hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.

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