Justice Minister Claire Sugden has welcomed the reassurance of progress and stability at Maghaberry Prison in the latest inspection reports from the Criminal Justice Inspectorate NI (CJINI) and Her Majesty’s Inspectorate of Prisons (HMIP).
The inspectors described Maghaberry as more settled and calm, prisoners were less agitated and dissatisfied, and levels of violence and disorder had dropped significantly. Their report, reviewing progress against inspection recommendations made in 2015, also highlights where further progress is needed, in particular on misuse of drugs and in supporting people with mental health issues.
Minister Claire Sugden said: “I am encouraged by the results of this latest report by Inspectors. It underlines a sense of momentum by NIPS and prison management who are united in their efforts to turn the prison around.
“Where inspectors had previously highlighted the facility to be unsafe and unstable, they have now acknowledged a significant cultural change through management, staff and prisoners’ regime. We must build upon this good work.
“However, there remain concerns that the issue of substance misuse, the availability of illicit drugs and how vulnerable prisoners are managed could undermine the positive work being done.
“Managers and staff have responded positively to deal with all of these challenges and earlier this week the Health Minister Michelle O’Neill and I announced a review of vulnerable prisoners. Together we appreciate the scale of the challenge in respect of mental health and addiction in prisons and the need for joined up partnership working to address this”.
Acting Director General of NIPS, Phil Wragg said: "Having independent verification that progress has been made should give staff, prisoners, their families and wider community confidence that Maghaberry is moving in the right direction.
“It remains a complex and challenging environment for prisoners and staff, but I am encouraged that progress has been made across a range of areas. This is welcome. However, there is no room for complacency and that progress must be built upon and continue.”
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. All media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office 028 90526444. Out of office hours please contact the duty press officer via pager number 07623 974383 and your call will be returned.
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