Maghaberry now to forefront of delivering 21st century prison standards – Director General

Date published: 27 November 2018


Northern Ireland Prison Service Director General Ronnie Armour today welcomed the findings of a new report on Maghaberry Prison.

Director General Ronnie Armour pictured with Governor of Maghaberry

The report on Northern Ireland’s maximum-security facility near Lisburn, was compiled by the Criminal Justice Inspectorate NI (CJINI) and Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP) following an unannounced inspection earlier this year. 

Commenting on the findings, Mr Armour said: “This latest report demonstrates the huge progress which has been made at Maghaberry Prison. From a facility which was described in 2015 as ‘unsafe, unstable and disrespectful’, criminal justice inspectors are now reporting ‘progress rarely seen’ with ‘outcomes for prisoners now among the best’. 

“Importantly, the report highlights rehabilitation and release planning as the highest performing area in the prison with family engagement identified as a significant strength. Indeed acknowledging ‘good practice, exceeding expectation’ in the Families Matters unit, inspectors have held this up as an example which ‘could be followed by other similar establishments to achieve positive outcomes for prisoners’.”

Commending the work of the Governors and staff at Maghaberry Prison, who have been pivotal in developing a progressive custodial establishment, Mr Armour added: “Today’s positive report has been delivered through the leadership of the late Governor Stephen Davis and the staff at the prison.  That work has been built upon under the current Governor David Kennedy, his senior team and everyone working to support people in our care.  

“We have a motivated, enthusiastic prison staff at Maghaberry doing excellent work, continually supporting and challenging those in our care to change their offending behaviour and work towards playing a constructive role when they return to the community.  I want to thank all of our partners who continue to play an important role in helping us to build a safer community.

“The report also highlights where Maghaberry can continue to progress and we will work with our partners to ensure that all those in our care have the support they need.”    

Commenting on the construction of a new accommodation at Maghaberry – named after former Governor Stephen Davis – Mr Armour said: “Davis House, which will accommodate over 360 men when it is completed in late 2019, is a further example of progress and our intention to deliver 21st century prison standards in Northern Ireland.”

Notes to editors: 

1.For further information about the 2018 Maghaberry Prison Inspection please visit CJI website

  • To view Ronnie Armour, Director General NI Prison Service commenting on the latest CJINI report on Maghaberry Prison visit DOJ Youtube channel
  • To view David Kennedy, Governor Maghaberry Prison commenting on how improvements made at Maghaberry Prison have been possible visit DOJ Youtube channel

2.Maghaberry Prison is the only Category ‘A’ prison in Northern Ireland and also operates as a remand prison for all adult male prisoners in the country. It accommodates a range of sentenced prisoners such as life sentence, indeterminate and extended custody prisoners, separated prisoners, fine defaulters and civil prisoners.

3.At 23 November 2018, there were 832 prisoners at Maghaberry Prison.

4.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 on 028 9037 8110. 


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