In-Person Prison Visits To Return From 31 January

In-person prison visits are to return from Monday 31 January, the Department for Justice has announced.

Visits were temporarily suspended after Christmas in response to the Omicron variant.

NI Prison Service Director General, Ronnie Armour said: "Keeping people safe has been our top priority throughout the pandemic. Prisons, like all sections of the community, responded to the threat posed by Omicron by restricting access to our prisons. As that threat recedes we can now take steps to recommence our recovery.

"No-one should underestimate the challenges this pandemic has presented to our staff, partners and indeed those we look after. Our staff have shown they will respond in an appropriate manner when the threat increases, but also when that diminishes.

"Therefore I am pleased to announce that in-person visits, including legal visits, will start again next week."

The Director General also announced that delivery partners will recommence their support services and prison libraries are to re-open. Packages, including paperback books, will also be accepted on specific days at each prison and on request.

Ronnie Armour continued: "Our partners play a crucial role in supporting rehabilitation and we are again in the position to facilitate and support that work. The opening of our libraries is a further step towards a full and productive day for the people in our care.

"While this is a significant day on our road to recovery, we cannot be complacent. The threat of Covid-19 is real and that is particularly challenging in a prison.

"However we will continue to be proactive in our response to Covid-19 and to relax restrictions when it is safe to do so. The safety of everyone in prison remains our focus."

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