Report published on purposeful activity in Separated Prisoner Accomodation

Date published: 20 March 2019

Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service, Ronnie Armour, has welcomed publication of the Report on Education and Training Opportunities for prisoners in the Separated Regime in Northern Ireland.

The report by the B9 Review Team examines constructive activity in separated prison accommodation at Maghaberry. 

The Review Team are Catherine Bell (Chair), a former Northern Ireland Civil Servant, Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Impact at Ulster University and Duncan Morrow a Lecturer in politics and Director of Community Engagement at Ulster University.

The team engaged with a wide range of stakeholders including the Northern Ireland Prison Service including senior staff in Maghaberry prison, people serving sentences in separated conditions, and Belfast MET, which is responsible for the provision of Learning and Skills in Maghaberry and Hydebank Wood College.

Commenting on the publication of the report, Catherine Bell said: “I want to thank all who engaged with us in this important work. Working and living in separated accommodation is difficult, and we do not under-estimate the challenges that involves. While mindful of that, our role was to review the provision of constructive activity in this area. 

“We strongly believe that every prisoner, regardless of their offence, should have equitable access to activities, including education and professional and technical training. This report reflects that and makes a number of recommendations which, if implemented, will deliver better outcomes for separated prisoners.

Director General of the Northern Ireland Prison Service Ronnie Armour has welcomed the report.

He said: “I want to thank Catherine and the team for producing a comprehensive report with recommendations on the future provision of education and training opportunities for people in separated accommodation.

“The team acknowledges that working in separated conditions can be challenging and it is important that we take time to reflect on the Report findings and recommendations. As the Prison Service cannot deliver this alone, we will want to engage with other government departments, educational partners and those in the voluntary and community sector.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. Catherine Bell CBE is a former Northern Ireland Senior Civil Servant in the then Department for Employment and Learning and has extensive experience in learning and skills provision and employment.  She was responsible for the review of Further Education resulting in the Strategy ‘FE Means Business’ which transformed the sector and gave Further Education a central role in supporting business and industry.  She was also a member of the College Steering Group which helped to transform Hydebank Wood from a Young Offenders Centre to a secure college in 2015 2011.
  2. Professor Cathy Gormley-Heenan is the Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Impact at Ulster University. She is a Professor of Politics with research interests in the areas of peace processes, the politics of divided societies, public policy and governance.  Until 2016 she was based in the School of Criminology, Politics & Social Policy at Ulster where she was also Director of the Institute for Research in Social Sciences. She is a regular political commentator for the BBC on both television and radio and has recently completed making a new radio programme for BBC World Service on Walls and Peace.
  3. Duncan Morrow is Professor of politics where he has published widely in the fields of conflict resolution, Northern Ireland politics and the relationship between religion and politics.  Duncan is currently the Director of Community Engagement at Ulster University developing relationships with groups and organisations across the community.   He is also a former Chief Executive of the Northern Ireland Community Relations Council and between 2012 and 2015 he was Chair of the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Tackling Sectarianism and in 2016 chaired the Scottish Government’s Advisory Group on Tackling Hate Crime, Prejudice and Community Cohesion.
  4. Currently there are 40 separated prisoners in Maghaberry Prison.
  5. Further information on the Report on Education and Training Opportunities for prisoners in the Separated Regime in Northern Ireland can be accessed at Prisons NI/Reports
  6. 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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