Justice Minister welcomes inspection findings for Maghaberry and Magilligan

Date published: 08 February 2024

Justice Minister Naomi Long today welcomed the findings of two review reports on Maghaberry and Magilligan Prisons.

The two Independent Review reports are intended to provide assurance or highlight issues which need addressed in advance of a full inspection.

Commenting on the findings, Naomi Long said: “Inspections play a vital role in holding us to account and offering scrutiny and focus on issues to be addressed.  They help ensure those in prisons are supported throughout their sentence in a safe environment, one where rehabilitation can be facilitated. 

“I am pleased that inspectors recognise the progress made at both Maghaberry and Magilligan, however I fully appreciate that there are areas where more work is required.”

Minister Long continued by highlighting the challenges being faced by prisons in Northern Ireland.

She said: “We have a rising prison population, many with complex needs including addiction and poor mental health.  It is a sad fact that people in prison are more likely to have a history of drug use than people in the wider community.

“Prison staff work tirelessly to disrupt the flow of illegal substances into the jails, as well as supporting recovery from addiction.  These issues make supporting the vital work of rehabilitation increasingly difficult.”

The Minister said: “However Prisons are making progress. Since their introduction in March last year, the X-Ray Body Scanners have had a major impact on stemming the flow of drugs and illegal substances coming into prisons.  This helps to keep both staff and prisoners safer.  The Prison Service is committed to maintaining strong partnerships with colleagues in the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and the Department of Health, particularly in seeking to disrupt the trade of medication within prisons.”

The Minister concluded: “Substance use, addiction and poor mental health are intrinsically linked and there needs to be a whole government approach to tackling these issues.  I want to acknowledge and thank prison staff who perform a very difficult role. Their commitment and dedication supports prisoners to turn away from their offending behaviour and to leave prison, more prepared to positively contribute to the community.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. Maghaberry is a modern high security prison housing adult male long term sentenced and remand prisoners, in both separated and integrated conditions.
  2. Magilligan is a medium to low security Prison which holds male prisoners with six years or less to serve and who meet the relevant security classification.
  3. All media enquiries should be directed to press.office@justice-ni.gov.uk
  4. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for Media Enquiries Only 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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