Maghaberry Prison Standards Improve

A new inspection report published today on Maghaberry Prison has found that standards have improved in the three years since the facility was last inspected.

The prison was inspected in March 2012 by a multi-disciplinary team of Inspectors from Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland, Her Majesty's Inspectorate of Prisons for England and Wales, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority and the Education and Training Inspectorate.

"Maghaberry Prison was assessed against the internationally recognised 'healthy prison' standards which examine the areas of safety, respect, purposeful activity and resettlement," explained Brendan McGuigan, Chief Inspector of Criminal Justice in Northern Ireland.

"Inspectors found there had been some positive developments since 2009 in relation to the critical area of safety.

"Arrangements to support vulnerable prisoners were improving and the multi-disciplinary team in the Donard Day Centre provided excellent care for some very vulnerable individuals. Despite these developments, some gaps still existed," he said.

Mr McGuigan continued: "We welcome the introduction of mandatory drug testing but had concerns around the diversion of prescription medication and the poor drug treatment processes at Maghaberry."

Inspectors also noted that there was no effective monitoring of violent incidents to identify when or where they were likely to occur or how they could be prevented.

"The inspection team found that despite high staffing levels, association and exercise areas were not adequately supervised and concerns remain that Maghaberry does not provide a sufficiently safe environment for prisoners held there," said the Chief Inspector.

Addressing the report's findings in relation to purposeful activity, Nick Hardwick, Her Majesty's Chief Inspector of Prisons in England and Wales called for a more strategic approach to learning and skills to be adopted within Maghaberry Prison.

"There has been positive investment in the prison's new Learning and Skills Centre but the provision available at the time of the inspection, was failing to meet the needs of the prison population," he said.

Mr Hardwick indicated there were insufficient activities to occupy prisoners with around half of the prison population unemployed. This meant too many prisoners were being locked behind their doors for up to 20 hours per day.

The report states that in relation to its resettlement activity, outcomes for prisoners were assessed as being 'reasonably good.'

The Chief Inspectors' indicated that resettlement was the most positive aspect of Maghaberry Prison, with good attempts made to address the behaviour of both short and long-term prisoners despite high numbers and the complex range of prisoners held there.

Public protection arrangements were functioning better than in 2009 and although not all needs were met, the provision of offending behaviour programmes had improved since co-ordination was taken over by the Offender Management Unit.

Inspectors however found that no progress had been made in relation to the area of respect at Maghaberry with outcomes for prisoners remaining the same as before.

"Maghaberry's own statistics have confirmed that in terms of equality there were still unequal outcomes for Catholic prisoners in several important areas. Yet this sensitive issue was not being addressed and we have recommended the Northern Ireland Prison Service to take action to deliver equality of outcomes for all prisoners," said Mr McGuigan.


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

09 March 2020
Five New Coronavirus Cases Confirmed
Five new cases of coronavirus have been detected in Northern Ireland. The Public Health Agency confirmed the further spread of the flu-like virus on Sunday, bringing the total number of cases in the region to 12. The search is on to trace people who have been in contact with the latest cases.
11 December 2019
Possible Link Between Co Tyrone Break-Ins
A Co Tyrone business has been rammed by a stolen car and a number of other local firms targeted during an overnight crime spree. Police are appealing for witnesses to a string of incidents in the Dungannon and Moy areas in the early hours of Wednesday 11 December. A possible link between the incidents is being investigated.
28 February 2020
Arrests Made In Crumlin Security Alert Probe
Detectives investigating a security alert in Crumlin have made three arrests following searches in Belfast and Newry. The alert caused disruption in the Co Antrim town on Thursday 16 January when a device was discovered wedged into the front grill of a car.
26 February 2020
Latest Coronavirus Advice As School Pupils Sent Home
Those who have been to a quarantined town in Italy are advised to self-isolate for the next fortnight as fears of the deadly coronavirus continue. The matter is affecting schools across Northern Ireland with concerns over recent school trips to the country, where a number of people have now lost their life to the outbreak.
06 February 2020
QUB Drone Invention Gives Early Indication Of Natural Disasters
An innovative drone system that predicts natural disasters has been developed by a researcher at Queen's University Belfast. Already adopted by authorities in Vietnam, the invention is much cheaper than popular alternatives and comes with a wifi 'hotspot' feature to provide phone signal during extreme weather.