Prisons announce review of pre-release testing processes

Date published: 19 December 2018

The Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service has initiated a review of pre-release testing arrangements.

Ronnie Armour has asked Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland, Brendan McGuigan, to examine the current process and identify any areas where improvements can be made.

Director General, Ronnie Armour, said: “Testing people before they are released back into the community is a key part of our work to reduce re-offending.

“In May, the Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland published an inspection report on ‘Resettlement in the Northern Ireland Prison Service’ and found ‘this process to be operating effectively and used to support progression of prisoners with decisions rigorously scrutinised without being unnecessarily risk averse’. 

“While that report was welcome and reassured me that our processes are stringent, the Northern Ireland Prison Service is never complacent and we are always looking for ways to improve how we work.

“Supporting and challenging people to resettle back in to society, and increasing public confidence in how we do that, is a key part of the significant role the Northern Ireland Prison Service plays in building a safer community.

“By its very nature, pre-release testing is challenging. Judgments are often finely balanced and, on occasions, individuals will fail the testing process. This can attract criticism and undermine public confidence so for the avoidance of any doubt, I have asked Brendan McGuigan to carry out a robust and focused review of our pre-testing arrangements.

“I look forward to the results of the review would welcome any recommendations on how we can further improve our processes.”

Notes to editors: 

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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