Only through rehabilitation and by supporting prisoners’ resettlement into the community can we reduce reoffending and ultimately make our community safer.
Beverley Wall, Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, was speaking as she marked 100 days in post.
The Director General said: “Maghaberry, Magilligan and Hydebank Wood College and Female Prison, hold some of the most complex and challenging members of our society, many with significant addiction and mental health issues. A rising prison population simply adds to the challenges.
“But the Northern Ireland Prison Service are uniquely placed to make a difference.”
Beverley Wall added: “Every prisoner in Northern Ireland today will eventually leave prison at some point in the future. Many will return to the same communities where their crime was committed.
“That is why rehabilitation and resettlement must be at the heart of our work. Supporting prisoners on a journey back into their community - healthier, fitter, better educated and having addressed addictions – benefits everyone in society.
“This isn’t something we do alone. It requires a partnership approach across government and with addiction services, the voluntary sector and local employers. Each bring their expertise so people in prison have the opportunity to turn their lives around when they leave prison.
“On release many prisoners choose a better future for themselves and their families and go on to play a positive role in their community. However there will also be those who, sadly, will return to a life of crime, and inevitably, re-imprisonment but we must continue to challenge those people to change.”
Addressing resettlement for prisoners, Beverley Wall said: “Many in our custody approaching the end of their sentence are tested prior to release back into the community. This includes temporary periods of release.
“Individuals are encouraged to fully engage in the tests, which challenge and support them to make positive change in their lives including tackling their offending behaviour. After being fully risk assessed, they begin graduated release into the community, firstly under supervision then progressing to short periods of unaccompanied release where they work in the community.
“The reality is that some will fail this test and be returned to prison, while others will succeed. Some may even fail these tests on a number of occasions. I fully appreciate this is frustrating, but the only alternative is to release people without any testing straight back into the community. That would only set them up for failure.
“Pre-release testing is, and will remain, an essential part of the rehabilitation journey, not just for the individual but in order to help us build a safer society.
“For any prisoner, leaving prison can be daunting. But the Prison Service and its partners assist in that transition – working to ensure prisoners on their release have suitable accommodation, access to benefits or employment and for those with mental health issues and addictions, health-led support.
“I am hugely impressed by the work of our highly professional, skilled and supportive workforce, who serve with confidence and compassion. Prison staff are innovative and highly committed, and provide a vital public service.
“We are an organisation which is focused on delivering the best service we can to those in our care and wider society. Through rehabilitation we can support and encourage prisoners to choose a better future and through successful resettlement we contribute to safer communities and a reduction in crime.”
Notes to editors:
- Media enquiries should be directed to the Department of Justice Press Office via email
- 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 out of hours on 028 9037 8110.
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